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US plans more WTO cases against China

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There is a news from from Reuters that the United States plans to bring more complaints against China and other countries to the World Trade Organization in 2006 than it has in recent years, a top U.S. trade official said on Thursday.

"I think it's fair to say there will be a significant uptick in the coming year in the number of cases" the United States files, said Jim Mendenhall, general counsel in the U.S. Trade Representative's office, in a speech to attorneys who specialize in trade.

He said the United States was "seriously" considering a case against China's barriers to foreign auto parts. Other cases against China are possible in 2006, he added.

The plan to step up legal action at the WTO comes as the huge U.S. trade deficit with China and the rest of the world has fueled demands in Congress that the Bush administration more vigorously enforce trade agreements.

Lawmakers have introduced various bills aimed at prodding the U.S. Trade Representative's office into filing more cases.

Mendenhall defended the Bush administration's record, saying the United States and European Union had each filed 16 cases since 2001. The relatively small number reflected a natural drop-off from the huge volume of cases filed in the early years of the WTO, which began in 1995, Mendenhall said.

The United States and other trading partners also held off bringing cases against China while that country was still in the process of implementing all the commitments it made to join the WTO in 2001.

But now that process is largely complete, China can expect the United States and other countries to demand more forcefully it abide by the rules, he said.

"If there was a honeymoon period, then the honeymoon is past," Mendenhall said, insisting the Bush administration has dealt appropriately with China up to now.

The United States is the only country so far to have filed a WTO complaint against China and it saw that dispute successfully resolved, he said.


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