My name is Clark Packard and I am trade policy counsel for the R Street Institute. I thank the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for the opportunity to comment on the proposed modifications of various actions taken by the Trump administration toward China pursuant to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.
Over the last year, I have shared concerns about the administration’s handling of trade and investment relations with China. To be clear, the United States has legitimate complaints about China’s commercial practices, as was well-documented by USTR’s March 2018 Section 301 Report. I testified before USTR last year about using the World Trade Organization (WTO) to handle the types of complaints the United States and its allies share about China’s abusive trade practices.
The administration has ignored recommendations to court like-minded allies who could join a case against China before the WTO’s dispute-settlement system under various legal authorities, including Article 41.1 of the Agreement on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) and Article 7.3 of China’s Accession Protocol. Instead, the administration pursued unilateral tariffs that led to predictable retaliation by China. I have concerns that another round of tariffs would hamper the United States’ ability to export more energy products to China, particularly liquefied natural gas. This trade war has harmed American consumers, both individuals and firms, and yet USTR acknowledges that China’s trade policies remain the same.
I have attached two columns I wrote over the last year that further elaborate on a wiser course of action, which would minimize harm to Americans while increasing our ability to influence China’s commercial practices.