BEIJING, Sep. 17 -- The United States should stop taking retaliatory actions against China to avoid a trade war, a top official of a think-tank associated with the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.
The unemployment rate in the US is still high and midterm elections are just round the corner. The US will pin the blame for its economic woes on China's exports and policies and consider more trade remedy cases against China, said Huo Jianguo, director of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the commerce ministry.
Trade friction between the two nations intensified on Wednesday as Washington filed two cases with the World Trade Organization (WTO) terming Chinese trade practices unfair.
The two cases relate to China's imposition of duties on US steel exports and discrimination on suppliers of electronic payment services from the US.
"We are concerned that China is breaking its trade commitments to the United States and other WTO partners," said US trade representative Ron Kirk in a statement.
The US plea at the WTO also coincides with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's appearance before a US Congressional hearing concerning likely steps to be taken on China's unfair trade practices.
The US needs to be cautious in its actions against China as the two nations are inching closer to each other, said Huo.
If the US continues with its confrontational stance, China will use the same measures on US imports, he said.
Responding to the US charges, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday "China's measures on foreign electronic payment and the ruling of the steel products are in line with rules and regulations of the WTO and legitimate".
"We have received the requests from the US for consultations. We will carefully study the cases and appropriately deal with them," the ministry said.
Under the WTO framework, the two sides will hold consultations first and try to resolve the dispute in two months, failing which, the matter will come up before a WTO panel.
The two cases come just two days after the US Commerce Department decided to impose final anti-dumping duties of 48.99 to 98.74 percent and final countervailing duties of 13.66 to 53.65 percent on seamless steel pipe imports from China.
Ministry officials on Wednesday reiterated that the US determination is discriminatory and unacceptable.
Last year, the US launched 23 trade remedy cases against China, up 53 percent year-on-year. The number of such cases will go up this year, said Huo.