7 May 2012
China’s export restriction policies: Complying with ‘WTO plus’ or undermining multilateralism
Authored by Baris Karapinar, in "World Trade Review, 2011, 10(3), 389-408".
Export restrictions imposed on various food products and natural resources have been subject to extensive public attention. Most recently, China's restrictions of its exports of certain minerals and rare earth metals have led to heated debates. The United States (US), European Union (EU), and Mexico have already filed a WTO dispute case against China on this matter. This paper describes the policy objectives and the global welfare implications of export restrictions. It summarizes the relevant WTO regulation, and offers a detailed analysis of the <em>China–Raw Materials</em> case which is before the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB). It argues that although export restrictions is arguably an area of ‘under-regulation’ or ‘regulatory deficiency’ in the WTO law, it is strongly biased against the late accession Members, including China. Yet, the way that China institutes its export restrictions raises serious questions about its role in the multilateral trading system, which it relies on for its economic prosperity. Hence, this is an area where China is likely to feel the implications of its so-called ‘WTO-plus’ commitments on its domestic and trade policies.