In the midst of mounting accusations of China's trade policies by U.S. officials, renowned experts at a leading U.S. think tank said China's trade protection is not significantly above that in large high-income economies like the United States.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross labeled China as "the most highly protectionist of the big countries" in his recent interview with the Wall Street Journal. His China-bashing rhetoric, however, was refuted by two economists with Peterson Institute For International Economics (PIIE).
In an online article recently published on PIIE website, senior fellow Nicholas Lardy and research analyst Zixuan Huang argued that Ross's accusation was outdated and neglected the progress China had made over the last three decades.
"China was a highly protectionist trading nation three decades ago, before it initiated negotiations to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). But to qualify for entry and to fulfill its WTO commitments after entry, China drastically reduced its average statutory tariff from about 45 percent in the mid-1980s to only 10 percent in 2015," said the article.
The two economists also found that the weighted average applied tariff rate applied by China in 2015 stood at 3.4 percent, only slightly higher than that in the seven advanced industrial economies and well below rates applied in Brazil and India.