KU News Service

American World Trade Organization loss, repeal of Canada tariffs cloud future of unilateralism, says trade expert

Tue, 09/15/2020

LAWRENCE — Two major developments unfolded today in the ongoing trade war with China and the Trump administration’s expansion of tariffs. First, the World Trade Organization ruled that American tariffs on Chinese goods violated international rules. The administration also announced it would drop its 10% tariff on Canadian aluminum.

The concurrent developments represent ongoing changes and international views of American actions toward trade with world partners, and international trade law expert Raj Bhala is available to discuss both stories with media. Bhala, Brenneisen Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Kansas, can discuss the WTO ruling, its consequences, U.S. options to respond, effects on American-Chinese trade going forward, the trade war, U.S.-Canada trade relations, the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, tariffs and related topics.

“As to the U.S. loss, it must be asked whether China has committed the same violations of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. That’s because of China’s counter-retaliation against America’s Section 301 tariffs,” Bhala said.

“Regarding the U.S. climb down on the Section 232 aluminum tariffs, query whether they might be reimposed. Much will depend on import volumes under the managed trade agreement the U.S. reached with China,” he said.

“Linking both issues is the major question of the future of unilateralism in a world trading system still clinging to the hope of multilateral solutions,” Bhala said.

Bhala has a global reputation in the scholarship of international trade law and has worked in China and Canada. He has written extensively on international trade law, including dozens of journal articles and books such as the acclaimed four-volume International Trade Law: A Comprehensive Textbook, now in its fifth edition, the two-volume treatise “Modern GATT Law” and “TPP Objectively: Legal, Economic, and National Security Dimensions of CPTPP,” second edition. He practiced international banking law at the Federal Reserve of New York before entering academia and is currently senior adviser to Dentons in Kansas City. In addition to China and Canada, he was worked throughout the European Union, Asia, Turkey, England and Israel.

To schedule an interview, contact Mike Krings at, 785-864-8860 or @MikeKrings.

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