Last week, the governments of the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, and the European Commission led arguments at the World Trade Organization (WTO) about the impact China’s scrap import regulations have had on global trade.
The discussion began in the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee (where the original ban was notified) but was later elevated to the Council for Trade in Goods. The WTO represents one of the few productive venues at which industry concerns about China’s import policies can be raised.
In the TBT Committee meeting, the five governments presented highly researched and thorough analyses of the ways China has not met its WTO obligations with the import regulations, including the lack of transparency and the fact that the mandatory import standards for quality are far stricter than China’s standards, which are only voluntary. The Chinese Government defended its need to protect the environment.
In the larger Council meeting, the United States against called on China to postpone the implementation of these policies and to align them with international norms. The European Commission drew attention to the adverse impact on the environment as a result of these materials being landfilled instead of put to productive use or being diverted to third markets without safe recycling methods. The Chinese Government once again responded with environmental protection in mind.
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