UNITED STATES The dawn of a new day for critics of Chinese trade?

Apr 01, 2008 | 01:45 PM |

Since joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 2001, China has been one of its greatest beneficiaries, enjoying lower tariffs and market access to virtually every other country in the world. But the honeymoon might be coming to an end.

Until recently, WTO membership has had few downsides for the Chinese. Its manufacturing sector has grown at an astonishing pace, providing the country a hefty trade surplus with the rest of the world. With that growth has come increasing political influence and a seat at the table alongside other leaders in the international arena.

Critics have argued that China enjoys all the benefits of WTO membership, namely market access, while remaining protected. Foreign ownership of Chinese companies is limited, for example, and China has brushed aside complaints from the United States and others that its artificially weak currency amounts to a trade-distorting subsidy.

But a big loss at the WTO in a case involving auto parts could be a sign of things to come.....

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