Why didn't the EU bring as many WTO cases against China than against the United States?


I was looking at the charts, and you would think that the EU being the United States closest allies would bring a lot more WTO cases against China than against the United States, but I found out that the EU brought more cases against the United States than it did against China. Are there particular reasons for this oddity, I was trying to get more information on this, but couldn't find anything, perhaps it's because China doesn't bring a lot of WTO cases against the EU?


1 Answer 1


There's some flawed/biased thinking exhibited in the Q here and it's an argument often touted by pro-China advocates that e.g. you've used to self-answer another question like this, namely that the number of Dispute Settlement (DS) cases is the end-all of WTO statistics of violations of its rules. That's hardly the case. The WTO allows countries to initiate some counter-measures and simply notify the WTO of those, particularly in anti-dumping cases. (These can be contested via DS, but often enough in the case of China being the target, they are not contested.) China has been (by far) on the receiving end of those AD measures: 1135 against China vs. 199 against the US. (Hard to get EU totals in that regard, as I'll explain later, but at least 99.)

More to the point, the EU applied 108 AD measures vs China and 11 vs the US.

The other way around, China applied 27 AD measures against the EU (also a few more against individual EU countries, 2 vs France, 4 vs Germany) and 47 against the US.

The US applied 160 against China and... a bunch against the EU, but these are harder to know in total because they applied to individual EU countries, like 14 against Germany and 7 against France--summing them might not be right way to get an EU total because some might be on the same dispute/products. (The US applied zero AD measures against EU as an entity.)

So unlike for DS cases, the "self-justice" AD cases are much more numerous when it comes US against China and EU against China, than between US and EU. So, what some comments [under the Q] suggested that the US-EU vs EU-China disputes are qualitatively of a different nature appears justified in this perspective.

I'll also note however that there are some serious caveats to the AD stats because the rules themselves that the US applies have been disputed (the "zeroing" affair). And to some extent, those applied by the EU as well, but for different reasons. As the latter is slightly more topical here, China agreed by its "WTO+" accession protocol to some special Non-Market Economy rules to determine some of its internal prices. This provision was negotiated to expire 15 years after accession. Yet the EU argues that China is not fully a market economy still and applied some modified, non-negotiated ad-hoc rules to China in the aftermath, which themselves have been contested etc.

Also, India applied slightly more (207) AD measures against China than the US did. But India and China have an amazing amount of... zero DS cases directly initiated against each other.

The TLDR moral of this story is that there's nothing simple about the WTO or how to capture disagreements there by some number(s).

  • Doesn't that mean that China does comply with the WTO? I am not even sure what this has to do with the question, because I don't think it explains why the EU brought more cases against the U.S.
    – Sayaman
    Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 5:47

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