Miti sets up task force to monitor US-China trade war

Containers at the Yangshan Deep Water Port in Shanghai. The US-China trade conflict escalated after the US imposed additional tariffs on aluminium and steel imports. (Reuters pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The international trade and industry ministry (MITI) has established a task force with the aim of monitoring and assessing developments in the United States-China trade conflict.

The task force will also focus on formulating strategies to mitigate the impact of such trade protectionism and act as a focal point for stakeholders to present their views, comments and feedback, the ministry said in a statement today.

“Companies operating in Malaysia are encouraged to reach out to this task force on any challenges they are facing due to the ongoing trade tensions at [email protected],” it said.

The US-China trade conflict began on Jan 22, 2018, when the US imposed global safeguard measures on solar panels and washing machines.

The tensions further escalated when the US invoked Section 232, Trade Expansion Act of 1962, and imposed additional tariffs on aluminium and steel imports, citing national security grounds.

Miti said trade conflicts were never a beneficial move for any country simply because trade restrictions and retaliatory measures would hurt everyone, especially small countries.

“The conflict has not only affected the US and China but also sparked retaliatory measures by many other aggrieved countries.

“Looking at this upsetting trend, a vicious protectionist cycle will ensue and pose a threat to world trade,” it said.

The ministry said countries should halt the spread of protectionism and instead be actively engaged in finding amicable solutions and resolving trade issues by multilateral dialogue, through the World Trade Organisation.

“This is to ensure that trade policies can be effective in strengthening the multilateral trading system.

“Hence, the Malaysian government will continue to work with all countries to ensure that protectionism is not the preferred path in any country’s policy formulation,” it said.

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