… is from pages 55-56 of Scott Lincicome’s superb Winter 2021 Cato Journal paper, “U.S. Trade Policy toward China: Learning the Right Lessons” (references omitted):
[T]he U.S. government has missed several opportunities to check China’s actions and support domestic labor markets since Beijing undertook the economic liberalization and legal commitments required of WTO accession. Most of those actions – for example on industrial subsidies and intellectual property – are covered by WTO rules and can be litigated through dispute settlement. Contrary to popular wisdom, moreover, such litigation has proven effective. For example, the United States was undefeated at the WTO when challenging Chinese trade practices between 2002 and 2018 and has won several more cases since that time. And when China loses WTO disputes, it tends to comply with the decisions. Chinese compliance is not perfect (nor is any other WTO member’s), but it is arguably better than that of the United States, which has famously shirked WTO rulings on subsidies, antidumping rules, and internet gambling.
DBx: At the 2019 FreedomFest in Las Vegas I debated Steve Moore on trade. (I defended free trade against Trump’s protectionism.) When there arose the issue of Chinese theft of Americans’ intellectual property, I criticized the Trump administration for immediately using such theft (only some of which is actual theft, by the way, as opposed to in-kind taxation) as an excuse to impose protectionist trade barriers. It would be better, I argued, first to take such disputes over intellectual property to the WTO. Why immediately retaliate against the Chinese in ways that impose unambiguous costs on innocent Americans? Steve accused me of being naive about the WTO, alleging that that organization is too ineffective to take seriously. Despite my mentioning evidence of the WTO’s effectiveness, including in disputes involving China, the audience cheered Steve as if my position was too pollyannish to take seriously.