July 15th, 2009 | Xinhua China sees 'unprecedented' foreign trade friction
China was cited in 60 investigations by foreign trade partners in the first half of the year, a sign of rising global protectionism, according to a commercial official.
The investigations, initiated by 15 countries, involved trade worth $8.267 billion and were “unprecedented both in terms of the number of cases and the value,” Liu Danyang, vice director with the Bureau of Fair Trade for Imports and Exports under the Ministry of Commerce, said at a seminar that opened Tuesday.
Last year Chinese foreign trade companies were cited in 62 investigations concerning accusations of dumping, subsidies and safeguard measures, that involved $6.2billion, said Liu.
“The situation this year reveals that trade protectionism is on the rise in many countries despite global calls against it,” Liu told the seminar on countering international trade risks.
Handling trade disputes had become a significant task for China’s commercial authorities, Liu said.
The official called for cooperation, stressing that “irresponsible trade protectionism will only harm both sides of the deal”.
In addition to the usual charges, Chinese trade companies suffered new protectionist measures of higher tariffs, technical barriers, depreciation and trans-national investment obstruction.
Some countries were taking advantage of their developed markets and advanced technologies and products to crack down on developing countries or their rising industries, Liu said.
Liu cited the example of Guangdong Provincial Food Industry Institute’s legal battle against Tate & Lyle, one of the world’s biggest sugar companies, over the alleged intellectual property rights infringement of an artificial sweetener in April.
“The case was similar to many others, in which powerful companies were trying to snuff out new rivals to retain their dominant position in the world market,” Liu said.
Wang Sanyong, a researcher with Guangdong Provincial Food Industry Institute, said his institute won the case, but at enormous cost.
“The product was solely developed by our researchers and the technology was different to that of the British company,” said Wang.
“However, it cost us 20 million yuan ($2.91 million) during the two-year legal procedure, which hacked profits and almost forced us to suspend operations,” he said.
The new phenomenon, partly triggered by the financial crisis, not only impaired Chinese companies, but also delayed the recovery of global economy, said Liang Yaowen, director of Guangdong Provincial Administration of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation.
Some countries were trying to turn temporary measures, such as anti-dumping and anti-subsidy, into long-term and fixed policies on the pretext of maintaining a trade balance, said Yan Qifa, a researcher with the Export-Import Bank of China, administered by the State Council.
China’s exports fell 26.4 percent in May from the same month a year ago to $88.758 billion, while imports were down 25.2 percent to $75.37 billion, according to the General Administration of Customs