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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

U.S., China File Dueling Trade Complaints

Matt Pressberg |
September 18, 2012 | 1:36 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer

The U.S. alleges China is unfairly subsidizing its auto exports. (stooart/Flickr)
The U.S. alleges China is unfairly subsidizing its auto exports. (stooart/Flickr)
The U.S. filed a case against China at the World Trade Organization Monday, claiming subsidies given to Chinese exporters of cars and car parts are in violation of “the rules of the global trading system” and put the resurgent domestic auto industry at a disadvantage. China quickly moved to counter, announcing a trade complaint of its own.

As the Financial Times reports, President Obama had launched a previous trade complaint involving cars against China in July, as well as one concerning rare earth materials. Despite these significant actions, the president’s challenger in November’s election, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, has attacked him for being soft on China, pledging to declare it a currency manipulator on his first day in office. Romney surrogate Donald Trump has used tougher language, also clamoring for much more aggressive action.

For its part, China announced it had taken action against a certain U.S. tariff law, alleging it breaks WTO “rules on transparency and proper procedures,” according to the Wall Street Journal. As Business Insider reports, China’s quick reaction may be due to it being preoccupied with the perplexing disappearance (and reappearance) of a high-profile politician and a disruptive row with Japan.

As he did with the June WTO action, President Obama announced Monday’s complaint at an appearance in Ohio, a stronghold of the American auto industry with over 50,000 full-time workers in that sector, according to the Financial Times. China can be an easy campaign punching bag for politicians of both parties, but it remains America's main lender and most important trading partner.

Ohio is often a bellwether state in presidential elections; President Obama carried the state in 2008, but it was won twice by George W. Bush. As WTO cases take months to resolve, the president can use the announcement to get a political boost with the decision coming well after the election.

Read more of Neon Tommy’s coverage of China here.

Reach Executive Producer Matt Pressberg here.



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