China files WTO complaint against US semiconductor export ban

Industry News | | MIC Customs Solutions |

Beijing has turned to the WTO to help solve a trade dispute with the US over an export ban on advanced semiconductor products.

China has submitted a formal case at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against new export controls imposed by the US that will greatly restrict shipments of high-performance semiconductors and other advanced technology to the country.

The measures were imposed in October by president Joe Biden's administration, with the aim of hindering Chinese development in the high-tech sector. Washington has justified the moves on national security grounds.

However, in its statement confirming the submission to the WTO, Beijing described the move as "a typical practice of trade protectionism".

The Chinese government added that in recent years, the US has "continuously overstretched the notion of national security, abused export control measures, [and] hindered the normal international trade of chips and other products".

It also claimed that the export controls will harm the stability of the global industrial supply chain.

Adam Hodge, spokesperson for the US Trade Representative's office, acknowledged the request for consultation from Beijing, but reiterated the US' stance that the moves are essential to protecting the country's interests.

"As we have already communicated to the PRC, these targeted actions relate to national security, and the WTO is not the appropriate forum to discuss issues related to national security," he said.

Some commentators have suggested that China will find it difficult to achieve a positive outcome at the WTO, as the body has broadly-defined exceptions to its trade rules where national security is concerned.

The move also indicates that the dispute is unlikely to be resolved any time soon, as a request for consultation at the WTO is just the first step in what is likely to be a years-long process. The fact the organization's dispute body is already dealing with a major backlog of cases, in part due to the US' refusal to appoint new members to the panel, is likely to lead to further delays.