The United States Trade Representative’s annual report to Congress on China’s World Trade Organization compliance, published in mid-January during the final few days of the Trump Administration, acknowledges China’s import ban on recyclable materials among its key U.S. concerns.
The section of the 2020 report on China’s recyclable material ban is several times the length of the same section in the 2019 report, demonstrating growing attention to the issue at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.
“In WTO committee meetings throughout the year, the United States and other WTO members urged China to halt the implementation of its discriminatory and overly restrictive regulatory regime for scrap and recovered materials and to consider the adoption of policies in line with international standards and practice,” the report notes.
ISRI submitted comments in September outlining difficulties recyclers in the United States have had in their trade with China, including “rounds of import bans, overly-strict product standards, challenging licensing requirements and non-transparent quota issuances,” about which China did not notify the WTO after 2018.
While the WTO report does not reference ISRI directly, it does note that “U.S. stakeholders have reported significant negative impacts on their exports.” It also acknowledges several points ISRI made in its comments, including that China began to implement a new solid waste law in September, but has “failed to implement a definition, scope, or timeline for implementation.”
The report is a continued positive sign of the U.S. government’s advocacy for the recycling industry, says Adina Renee Adler, ISRI’s vice president of advocacy. It “correctly points to China’s import policies as violating the spirit, integrity and law of the international trading system, especially for scrap commodities,” she says. “We continue to be grateful to our government’s officials for advocating on our behalf.”
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office has submitted a report on China’s WTO compliance since 2002, as part of a requirement for the U.S.-China Relations Act of 2000. The report has mentioned China’s scrap ban every year since it went into effect in 2017.