US should not take unilateral trade action on China: expert

The trade conflict between the United States and China would possibly deteriorate to "extreme" from "modest", and would not have a "happy ending" in the short term, as US President Donald Trump has adopted various trade tools to deal with Beijing, according to an expert.

At the beginning of 2018, President Trump approved the decision to impose new tariffs on imports of solar panels from China under Section 201 of the Trade Act. Last year, the administration launched an investigation into imports of steel and aluminum from China, invoking Section 232 of a national security law passed in 1962. And in the same year, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer officially started a probe into China's policies and practices about intellectual property and technology transfer under Section 301 of the Trade Act.

William Reinsch, who holds the Scholl Chair in International Business at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and is a senior adviser at Kelley, Drye & Warren LLP, said during a recent interview with that it was uncertain whether President Trump would be tougher on China. But the expert suggested that the United States should not take unilateral trade actions against China because it might trigger Chinese retaliation, which in turn would intensify the trade tensions between the two countries.

What the United States should do currently is to convince the European Union and the international community of China's overcapacity being a source of many global economic problems, according to Reinsch. With its rising position, China must take more responsibility in dealing with the global economic problems in an international trade system that the United States sees as the precondition for common growth and prosperity, said the expert.

The expert expressed confidence in America's long-term efforts in persuading the international community to believe that some Chinese practices have led to an imbalance in the international trade system.

Commenting on the recent resumption of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation in the absence of the United States, Reinsch said that it indicated the involved countries' intention to make rules and standards for the world's trade system and would greatly impact the Asian trade order in 2018. The expert did not rule out the possibility of China joining the trade bloc.

The expert also predicted that no country in the Asia Pacific region would like to negotiate with the United States on a bilateral trade agreement, adding that it is unimaginable for the United States to drop the free trade agreement with South Korea.

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