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The United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) published a notice in the Federal Register on September 1, 2009 requesting comments and announcing a public hearing on China’s compliance with its WTO commitments. This notice is part of an institutional mechanism the United States created to monitor and enforce other countries’ compliance with their WTO obligations. That mechanism is deployed with particular vigilance when it comes to China.

USTR is requesting these particular comments and holding a public hearing because Section 421 of the U.S.-China Relations Act of 2000 requires USTR to submit annually a report to Congress on China’s compliance with commitments made in connection with its accession to the WTO. Thus, the Obama Administration is following the law as written by Congress, where there is continuous skepticism about China’s fidelity to international trade rules.

The United States is not nearly so vigilant, unfortunately, when it comes to its own WTO obligations. The most glaring example of this double standard is the United States Commerce Department’s continuing refusal to give up its “zeroing” practice, notwithstanding more than seven WTO Appellate Body decisions over the last five years finding the practice inconsistent with WTO obligations. “Zeroing” is a technique used in antidumping cases that increases the likelihood of finding dumping, and inflates the “margins” – the amount of duties to be charged on imports – once dumping has been found. In the most recent WTO decision, United States – Measures Relating To Zeroing And Sunset Reviews – Recourse To Article 21.5 Of The DSU By Japan, issued August 18, 2009, the WTO Appellate Body found that the United States had failed to comply with the WTO Dispute Settlement Body ruling, dated January 23, 2007, that the U.S. practice of zeroing in administrative reviews is contrary to the WTO Antidumping Agreement. The WTO Appellate Body has ruled, repeatedly, that zeroing is not permissible, whether for original investigations or for administrative reviews.

In the Japanese case, the United States Commerce Department made new determinations for the specific administrative reviews without zeroing, but subsequently assessed antidumping duties on certain of the affected customs entries at the rates found in the original determinations using zeroing. It also refused to implement the results going forward, claiming that the reviews at issue had been superseded by subsequent administrative reviews in which the Commerce Department again used zeroing. The Appellate Body found that, because of these actions, the United States had failed to implement the 2007 ruling and remains in continuing violation of its obligations under the WTO Antidumping Agreement.

In our view, China should comply faithfully with its WTO obligations and the scrutiny of its actions required by U.S. law should give it no problems. However, China, and other WTO members, should hold the United States to the same high standard the United States expects of China and all other countries. It is important for the rule of law to apply to everyone equally.

 

            美国贸易代表办公室9月1日在Federal Register上刊登通知,征求各方对中国履行入世承诺的意见,并通知将举行公开听证会。这一通知是美国监督、督促他国履行入世承诺制度的一部分。当涉及中国时,这一制度异常敏感。

        美国贸易代表办公室征求意见并举行公开听证会是因为《2000年中美关系法》第421款要求贸易代表办公室每年向国会递交一份报告,陈述中国是否及如何履行在加入世贸组织时做出的承诺。奥巴马政府只是遵循对中国是否忠于国际贸易规则依然持怀疑态度的国会制定的法律而已。

         但令人遗憾的是,当轮到自己履行世贸组织承诺时,美国却变得不那么警觉。证明这一双重标准最典型的例子是虽然世贸组织上诉机构在过去五年里七次裁定美国商务部“零和法”违背世贸组织章程,但是美国商务部一直拒绝放弃这一计算方法。“归零法”是在反倾销案中使用的、增强发现反倾销存在可能性、并提高反倾销税率的技巧。在最新的世贸组织裁决中——8月18日发布的美日——归零法及日落复审——世贸组织争端第21.5条裁决中,世贸组织上诉机构裁定美国没有执行世贸组织争端解决机构2007年1月23日的裁决。世贸组织在2007年裁定美国在行政审查中使用归零法这一做法违背了世贸组织反补贴协定。世贸组织上诉机构多次裁定无论是在调查还是在年审中,都不允许使用归零法。

         在与日本的纠纷中,美国商务部取消使用归零法、发布了新的行政年审结果,但是在向某些受影响的海关进口征收反倾销税时依旧依据原先发布的调查结果。同时,美国商务部拒绝继续使用新发布的行政年审结果,声称这些调查已经被新展开的行政年审取代,而在这些新展开的年审中美国商务部继续使用归零法。世贸组织上诉机构认定,因为这些举动,美国没有执行2007年裁决、依旧违背世贸组织反倾销协定。

         在我们看来,中国应当诚实履行入世承诺,美国政府依照美国法律对中国的监督也就不成问题。但是,中国以及其他世贸组织成员应当和美国一样高标准、严要求地监督他们那样监督美国。法治面前人人平等非常重要。 

 (翻译:朱晶)