China's Trade Disputes
(17 pages of text)
By 2009, China's exports had increased dramatically from $250 billion in 2000 to a projected $1,500 billion in 2009. This enormous growth of exports severely damaged competing businesses in the advanced nations, particularly the United States and Europe. China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 guaranteed China's right to export to these nations, but at the same time the WTO required China to adhere to certain rules that sought to support fair trade and create a level playing field. Several broad subjects each gave rise to a series of trade disputes: the protection of intellectual property, health and safety concerns about China's products, labour and environmental standards, China's manipulation of their currency, and costs and prices determined by the government rather than free markets. This case examines each set of trade disputes and China's attempts to resolve them. Many disputes were embedded in cultural practices and ideological positions and so they might not disappear quickly. Shortcomings in China's legal and judicial system hampered enforcement. In addition, many rested on the government's desire to protect the interests of Chinese businesses and their employees, and so China might alter its practices only if confronted with credible retalitory threats. China's central government experienced the principal-agent problem where its wishes and decisions could be ignored by local governments and firms. Meanwhile, changes in industry structure within the advanced nations were altering the negotiation positions of Western governments. The case examines the WTO dispute resolution procedures and enforcement mechanisms that have been directed at China's trade disputes.
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