Friday, September 07, 2007

U.S. Leads the World in WTO Trade Complaints

WASHINGTON: The Bush administration has asked the World Trade Organization to rule in a complaint against China over the piracy of copyrighted movies, music, software and books, escalating a dispute that has roiled commercial relations.

We hear a lot about China violating World Trade Organization rules, like the example above involving piracy. In America, one could easily get the impression that the U.S. always follows WTO rules and it's always other countries China that are the bad guys. Statistics available on the WTO website tell a much different story.

Since the WTO started in 1995, the U.S. has been a respondent in almost 100 cases, and 43 of those complaints have been filed since 2002, when China was admitted to the WTO. In contrast, only 8 complaints have been filed against China; so the U.S. has received more than 5 times the number of complaints as China (see chart above). Many (or most) countries have received no complaints.


At 9/08/2007 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do LDCs (Less Developed Countries) and MDCs (More Developed Countries) follow the same rules and regulations in the WTO? I know the World Bank has different sets of rules for each, but I don't know whether the WTO does.

If China is an LDC, and there are different rules for LDCs and MDCs, you could not directly compare the number of complaints against each to judge WTO compliance when MDCs are held to different and higher standards.

I'm not trying to imply that the U.S. is a saint when it comes to trade, but our market is highly coveted by others, so it's not really surprising other countries would attack our trading policies and feel they are unfair. Everyone likes to go after the "Big Dog." If you doubt that, just look what happened to the University of Michigan's football team last week.

At 9/08/2007 2:05 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

How to explain then that other large, developed economies have NO complaints: Germany, Italy, France, UK, Netherlands, etc.?

At 9/08/2007 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't really know why other countries have no complaints, but isn't the U.S. generally considered the most open and largest market in the World? Possibly our economy is larger than the rest of those put together.

I'm not sure how much complaints really matter in the scheme of things anyway. How many complaints resulted in further action after an objective investigation of all the facts? Most systems offer a fairly easy procedure to file complaints. However, that does not necessarily mean they have any merit.

Like I said before, everyone goes after the "big guy." The U.S. poses a rather large target for a lot of nations for a lot of different reasons.

At 9/09/2007 2:06 AM, Blogger thomasblair said...

Speaking of "free and open markets" there is an interesting case pending before the WTO regarding the U.S. and the internet gambling ban. Antigua and Barbuda filed a complaint after the U.S. passed its internet gambling ban claiming that the ban violates the terms of the U.S. schedule of committments to the WTO. They have threatened to retaliate by refusing to protect American intellectual property within their territory. More here.


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