U.S. Set to Review China's Market-Economy Status Bid, WSJ Says

  • Comes before Xi and Trump meet for talks in Florida next week
  • China has complained about U.S., EU in WTO over market status

The U.S. is preparing a review of China’s bid for market-economy status under the World Trade Organization, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The Trump administration appears ready to formalize China’s unfavorable status in trade cases, which means the country’s goods would be eligible for higher U.S. tariffs, the paper said, citing documents from the U.S. Commerce Department website. The review is expected to be announced as early as this week, it said.

The report comes as the leaders of the world’s largest economies prepare for their first meeting, which will set the tone for ties after U.S. President Donald Trump’s earlier threats to start a trade war with China and muddy economic affairs with geopolitics, including policies on Taiwan.

President Xi Jinping will meet with Trump April 6-7 at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday, citing the foreign ministry.

The U.S. isn’t likely to grant China market-economy status in the review, according to He Weiwen, deputy director of the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization, and a former business attache in the Chinese consulates of New York and San Francisco.

Doing so would go against Trump’s anti-China trade rhetoric, He said. Still, it’s possible the U.S. will keep the market-economy status as a bargaining chip in future talks.

China complained to the WTO late last year in a bid to force the U.S. and European Union to stop using example prices from other nations in anti-dumping probes on its goods, and followed in March with an effort to have a WTO dispute panel probe the matter. The U.S. review could be a response to that complaint, according to He.

Beijing said in its December complaint that WTO members were required to start treating it as a market economy from that month, the 15th anniversary of it joining the trade body. The Obama administration and the European Union declined to give China such status, and Beijing then filed a case against its two biggest trading partners with the organization.

Watch Next: What Trump's Trade War with China Would Look Like

— With assistance by Miao Han

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