The World Trade Organisation’s ruling at the end of last week in favor of China’s appeal against E.U. anti-dumping tariffs of imports of Chinese screws and other fastenings is significant. It undercuts the basis on which the E.U. and the U.S. have imposed a welter of similar antidumping tariffs against other Chinese imports (WTO report in full). Chinese goods have been the subject of antidumping measures by the E.U. and U.S. in 445 cases over the past decade, accounting for one in four of those imposed by all WTO members (which has included China since 2001).
The essence of the WTO’s ruling is that the methodology that the E.U. uses to assess the true production cost of Chinese goods is flawed and thus there are factors other than state aid that makes their manufacture cheaper than European-produced equivalents. Beijing has publicly played down the importance of the decision, but E.U. officials have described it as a “significant setback”. They have 60 days to appeal. We believe that unless the E.U. can see some sort of workaround, a challenge will be mounted because of the precedent it sets. With Beijing playing increasing legal hardball at the WTO, it is game on.