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WTO MC13 delivers few positive outcomes

Published 12 March 2024

Months of negotiations delivered little progress in Abu Dhabi for the WTO. What are the key takeaways? China concluded its annual 'Two Sessions' legislative conclave yesterday. What comes next for its economic evolution? How should the world brace for Trump’s tariffs? Check out our reading list for the latest developments in global trade.

MC13 ends with a whimper

The WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference concluded last week with few positive developments. Read the WTO’s press statement assessing the conference. Bloomberg highlights the two-year extension of the moratorium on e-commerce tariffs. Alan Beattie says that a weak WTO will damage the planet more than hurt free trade, in the Financial Times. Alan Wolff of the Peterson Institute for International Economics notes MC13’s qualified success 

For additional analysis, Hinrich Foundation Senior Research Fellow Keith Rockwell presents Six takeaways from WTO MC13. 

Mentioned publications

  1. MC13 ends with decisions on dispute reform, development; commitment to continue ongoing talks World Trade Organization, March 1, 2024
    MC13 concludes with very modest results. 

  2. World Trade Chiefs Pull Talks From Brink With E-Commerce DealBloomberg, March 2, 2024
    WTO members agreed to extend the moratorium on e-commerce tariffs for two years. 

  3. A weak WTO will damage the planet more than it hurts free trade – Alan Beattie, Financial Times, March 4, 2023
    Environmental issues, especially climate change, are missing from the WTO’s agenda.

  4. The WTO Ministerial Conference's qualified success in Abu Dhabi – Alan Wm. Wolff, Peterson Institute for International Economics, March 4, 2024
    A summary of the positive and negative outcomes from MC13.

  5. For more excellent analysis of MC13 outcomes from the Hinrich Foundation, read Six takeaways from WTO MC13 by Senior Research Fellow Keith Rockwell. 

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China's economic evolution

What news came out of China’s annual "two sessions" meetings this week – the annual plenary meetings of the National People's Congress (NPC) and of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC)? Reuters reports on a policy drive to summon new productive forces, while the Asia Society Policy Institute discusses what the two sessions mean for the economy, politics and foreign policy. Arthur Kroeber of GaveKal explains China’s economic jigsaw to the Wire China. 

Trivium China games out China’s next export controls on critical minerals, while China intensifies its push to delete America from IT software, writes Liza Lin in the Wall Street Journal. China has a plan to reshape world trade, according to James Kynge and Keith Fray in the Financial Times. The West didn’t invent decoupling but China did, per Agathe Demarais in Foreign Policy. 

Mentioned publications

  1. China's Xi Jinping summons 'new productive forces', but old questions linger – James Pomfret, Kevin Yao and Ellen Zhang, Reuters, March 6, 2024
    What will investment in "new productive forces" mean for China’s trade flows and trade relations? 

  2. China 2024: What Does the Two Sessions Mean for the Economy, Politics, and Foreign Policy? – Guonan Ma, Jessica Chen Weiss, Bert Hofman, and Neil Thomas, Asia Society Policy Institute (webinar video), March 6, 2024
    A comprehensive discussion of the meaning of this year’s two sessions. 

  3. Arthur Kroeber on Piecing Together China’s Economic Jigsaw – Alex Colville, The Wire China, December 31, 2023
    A thoughtful discussion of the forces currently shaping China’s economy. 

  4. Gaming out China’s next export controls on critical minerals – Cory Combs, Trivium China, February 28, 2024
    What exports will China likely target for controls? 

  5. China Intensifies Push to ‘Delete America’ From Its Technology – Liza Lin, The Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2024
    China has issued a directive to state-owned companies to replace foreign software in their IT systems. 

  6. China’s plan to reshape world trade on its own terms – James Kynge and Keith Fray, Financial Times, February 26, 2024
    China is constructing an alternative trade architecture centered on the developing world. 

  7. The West Did Not Invent Decoupling—China Did – Agathe Demarais, Foreign Policy, February 1, 2024
    China has long had policies in place to insulate its economy from the rest of the world. 

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Trump tariffs

Donald Trump clinched the Republican Party nomination for President this week. The Economist takes a look at how badly Trump could hurt Chinese firms, citing a new paper from George A. Alessandria, Shafaat Y. Khan, Armen Khederlarian, Kim J. Ruhl and Joseph B. Steinberg for the National Bureau of Economic Research. Would Trump’s threatened new tariffs survive a Supreme Court challenge? Alan Wm. Wolff answers the question for the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Trump would likely raise tariffs through two steps, reports Nikkei Asia.

Mentioned publications

  1. Trump wants to whack Chinese firms. How badly could he hurt them?The Economist, February 22, 2024
    How will exporters respond to Trump’s threats of 60% tariffs on Chinese imports?  

  2. Trade War and Peace: U.S.-China Trade and Tariff Risk from 2015–2050 – George A. Alessandria, Shafaat Y. Khan, Armen Khederlarian, Kim J. Ruhl and Joseph B. Steinberg, National Bureau of Economic Research, February 2024
    A new study shows that expectations for future US tariffs on Chinese imports rose more under Biden than under Trump. 

  3. Would Trump's threats of new tariffs survive legal challenge in the Supreme Court? – Alan Wm. Wolff, Peterson Institute for International Economics, February 16, 2024
    The US Supreme Court may not be friendly to Trump’s plans to impose a 10% tariff on all imports. 

  4. Trump likely to raise tariffs on China in two steps, former official saysNikkei Asia, February 21, 2024
    Trump would rely on Sections 232 and 301 authorities to increase tariff rates and revoke PNTR for China. 


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