The Biden administration on Wednesday criticized China as the biggest source of global excess capacity in sectors such as steel, aluminum and solar energy, and promised further action "to address these harmful trade practices."
The tough talk was another sign that trade relations between the world’s two largest economies will remain fraught, even though former President Donald Trump is no longer in office.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative made the statement as part of its mammoth annual National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers. The section on China runs more than 30 pages, second only to chapter on the European Union.
"China’s state-led approach to the economy and trade makes it the world’s leading offender in creating non-economic capacity, as evidenced by the severe and persistent excess capacity situations in several industries, including steel, aluminum, and solar," USTR said in a news release.
The trade office also said China was "well on its way to creating severe excess capacity in other industries" by "doling out hundreds of billions of dollars to support Chinese companies and requiring them to achieve preset targets for domestic market share — at the expense of imports — and global market share in several advanced manufacturing industries."
"USTR will continue its bilateral and multilateral efforts to address these harmful trade practices," the statement said.
The 570-page report examines 65 trading partners and country groups that account for 99 percent of U.S. goods trade and 87 percent of U.S. services trade. It is compiled from public comments submitted by industry groups and other interested parties. Many of the concerns are longstanding, although new irritants emerge during each review.
Roadblocks on the information superhighway: USTR has paid increasing attention in recent years to trade barriers that reduce the ability to do cross-border business over the internet. The latest report details restrictive data policies in countries including India, China, Korea, Vietnam and Turkey, in addition to other concerns. Those include "discriminatory" tax measures adopted by a number of countries, as well as tariffs on digital goods and local content requirements for online streaming services.
Keeping food off the table: Farmers continue to face "an array of tariff and nontariff barriers" that hamper their ability to sell their goods around the world, USTR said. Those include food and plant health safety measures the U.S. says are not based on sound science, burdensome import licensing and certification requirements, and restrictions imposed by the EU and others on the ability of U.S. producers to use the common names of the products that they produce and export.
And so much more: The report "details thousands of individual barriers" to U.S. exports, USTR said, ranging from Argentina’s imposition of quotas on imported books to India’s 38.8 percent average tariff on agricultural goods. They also include the "anomalous" technical standards Saudi Arabia applies to shoes and electronic equipment, Ecuador’s mandatory process for allocating import licenses for agriculture products, Indonesia’s local content requirements across a broad range of sectors and Russia’s bans on imported food, USTR said.
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