Fifteen Years Later and China’s WTO Promises Still Fall Short

A look at the U.S.-China economic relationship and how Beijing’s practices impact America’s manufacturers

As China marks its 15th anniversary of becoming a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), it is seeking to be granted "market economy" status by the United States, European Union and other nations.

But China has failed to meet any of the United States' criteria for market status, as it continues to break its promises to take meaningful steps to open the country's market, address its ongoing industrial overcapacity issues and permanently stop manipulating its currency.

“We’ve got a persistent China trade problem because Beijing has ignored its WTO obligations,” said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. “It is no coincidence that economic pain played such a central role this election season. For 15 years our workers and makers have asked China to play by the rules, and for fifteen years Beijing hasn't budged.”

Millions of factory workers have lost their jobs since China joined the WTO in 2001. MIT economist David Autor estimates that a surge of Chinese imports has displaced 2.3 million American jobs, with the Economic Policy Institute citing 3.2 million job losses.

“We may never recover some of the jobs lost to China, but unless we insist that China abide by its commitments, the next generation of industry will not be made in America,” Paul said. “I’m pleased the Obama administration appears to be set to deny China market economy status. The next administration and Congress must take further steps to stop China’s cheating.”

To celebrate China’s WTO anniversary, here are 15 facts about the U.S.-China economic relations:

1. The cumulative U.S. trade deficit with China since it joined the WTO is a staggering $3.5 trillion.

2. The growing U.S. trade deficit with China cost $3.2 million jobs between 2001 and 2013.

3. Sixty-three percent of 2016 voters think it is very important to “crack down on China for violating its trade agreements.” This includes a 54% majority of Clinton voters, and 71% of Trump voters.

4. The ratio of Chinese imports to U.S. exports in bilateral trade relationship is over 4:1.

5. There are 16 pages of the USTR National Trade Estimate Report (2016) devoted solely to Chinese trade barriers.

6. More than three-fourths of surveyed U.S. companies reported they felt foreign businesses are less welcome in China than in years past.

7. In 2014, China led foreign countries in the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States reviews with 24 reviewed transactions out of more than 100 total acquisition deals.

8. Seventy-five percent of new steel stock since 2000 has come from China.

9. As many as 19,000 U.S. steel and iron workers are facing layoff as a result of Chinese overcapacity.

10. Over 1,000 antidumping cases have been initiated against China globally since 1995.

11. The U.S. has launched 28 antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China during the first nine months of 2016.

12. China’s enormous steel overcapacity grew to 336 million metric tons in 2015.

13. Meanwhile, America’s steel production hit 79 million metric tons in the same year (2015).

14. All 435 Congressional Districts have lost jobs to China due to Beijing’s unfair trade practices.

15. China complies with zero of the six Commerce Department requirements to gain “market economy" status.