Volume 12 (2017) / Issue 7/8
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said ‘we can’t continue to allow China to rape our country’ and vowed to aggressively fight back against China’s unfair trade practices. He promised to declare China to be a currency manipulator, impose a 45% tariff on all Chinese imports into the US and use the full arsenal of US trade laws against Chinese unfair trade practices. Since the election the reality on the ground has not been so certain. Nevertheless, these policy initiatives do raise many legal and policy questions. The question is not whether President Trump can really do these things or whether he should do these things, and it is not valuable to speculate what he will achieve. Trade disputes are inevitable in high-pressure bilateral trade relations, and therefore the critical question whether the trade disputes between China and the United States are manageable overall, and to what extent they are manageable in the WTO context.
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