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China to See "More Trade Disputes" This Year
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Mar 8,2010

BEIJING, Mar. 8 -- China will face rising trade protectionism this year as a result of an increase in its exports as well as high unemployment rates in the United States and the European Union, the Chinese ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO) said.

But China is committed to pushing forward the stalled Doha round of WTO talks, although it seems "highly unlikely" that the global trade negotiations can be completed this year, said Sun Zhenyu, who is also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body.

Last year, various economies launched a total of 118 trade cases against China, affecting Chinese exports worth more than 13 billion U.S. dollars. The U.S. was among the most aggressive, launching 23 cases involving 7.6 billion U.S. dollars worth of Chinese exports.

"China was the scapegoat in most cases and some countries simply blamed China for their own economic problems such as trade deficits," Sun said.

The U.S. also launched anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations into imports of drill pipes used for oil wells from China during Spring Festival last month, while the EU launched two anti-dumping cases against China over coated fine paper and melamine earlier this year.

Given the high unemployment rates in major economies, including the U.S. and the EU, Sun predicted there "would not be any improvement" this year and China would "have to face rising trade protectionism".

Buoyed by the economic recovery of the developed nations, China's exports surged by 17.7 percent from a year earlier, ending 13 consecutive months of downturn since November 2008. In January, exports surged by 21 percent.

Many Chinese economists said the nation's exports are set for an annual growth of 15 to 20 percent in 2010, as opposed to a year-on-year drop of 16 percent in 2009.

Doha talks

Sun said the Doha Round of WTO talks will not be concluded this year, partly because Washington is not going to put that high on its agenda.

The U.S. focus will instead be on creating more jobs at home and improving exports, he said.

However, "China expects the Doha talks, with all the effort that WTO members have made, to be brought to an end as soon as possible", Sun said.

The Doha talks entered a deadlock in 2008 as the U.S. and a number of emerging economies grappled over a few critical issues, including special safeguards to protect farmers in poor countries from import growth and sectoral arrangement on industrial goods.

"More than 80 percent of the talks have been finalized according to WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, but we don't expect the final deal this year given the political hurdles the U.S. has to face at home," Sun said.

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