China and the WTO: lawyering up

Trade & Manufacturing
  • For the first five years after its accession to the WTO in 2001 Beijing was something of a stranger in the hearing rooms of the WTO’s dispute settlement machinery in Geneva. Since 2007 all this has changed. China has been the subject of 26 WTO dispute cases since 2006. China itself has now launched nine WTO cases, seven against the US and two against the EU.
  • China’s developing confidence and capability as a WTO litigant has provoked an important shift in the way it conducts itself in Geneva. It is more assertive in the defence of its own interests and more confident in exhausting every avenue in the dispute resolution process – much as the EU and the US have for years.
  • For businesses implicated in cross-border trade disputes that involve China this evolution in strategy and tactics is important. It needs to be factored in carefully to considerations of the role – and particularly the speed – with which the WTO can be used to resolve trade frictions.

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The views expressed in this note can be attributed to the named author(s) only.