World Trade Organization ruling, IMF to rule


The New York Times carries a story that is actually probably of more import than Fed announcement of not renewing the Treasury Bond program.

Wednesday’s ruling goes to the heart of one of the biggest trade issues pending between China and the West: whether intellectual property, like copyrighted songs, books and movies, should be granted the same kind of protection from discriminatory trade practices as manufactured goods.

In its petition to the W.T.O., the United States particularly criticized China’s requirement that most copyrighted material be imported through a few government-designated companies, which tend to be wholly owned or majority-owned by the government.

The panel condemned this, saying in its report that “it also appears that foreign individuals and enterprises, including those not invested or registered in China, are accorded treatment less favorable than that accorded to enterprises in China with respect to the right to trade.”

China in particular has been an enthusiastic supporter of the W.T.O. since its admittance in 2001, because the group’s free-trade rules have made it hard for other countries to impose antidumping and antisubsidy limits on Chinese exports. But the Chinese government has not removed heavy taxes on imported auto parts that were condemned by another W.T.O. panel in July 2008.

Economic planners in Beijing have ordered government agencies not to buy imported goods for the country’s nearly $600 billion stimulus program except when no domestically produced goods are available. The government has set high domestic content requirements for the wind and solar power industries, and has rejected bids even by multinationals that erected factories in China to supply the local market.

The panel stopped short of endorsing an American requests for a ruling on whether Chinese censorship had unfairly restricted imports. The panel said that this question was outside its purview; for the same reason, the panel also declined to rule on whether China’s approval processes were too onerous for would-be distributors of imported entertainment.

Another example of a trade issue is noted that is recurring as well:

As the International Trade Commission considers comments on its recommendation to impose tariffs on Chinese tire imports, President Obama stands at a crossroads in the fight to rebuild the American economy.

President Obama has made a commitment in the past to uphold previously signed trade agreements. China, however, is violating these agreements by flooding the market with a massive 300 percent increase in tire imports in an attempt to wipe out American tire manufacturers. In 2004, China sent 14 million tires to the U.S. valued at $453 million. By last year, that had increased to 46 million tires valued at $1.7 billion.

This affects Canada as well, since many tires are made up north. Is the climate different enough from ‘no tariffs’ days to make for a different response? How does a trade policy respond to deal with these issues as we make adjustments in people’s livelihoods? What are the rules of this market situation?