Joint Statement From Trade Ministers of US, EU, Japan Is an Encouraging Step Toward Curbing China’s Mercantilism

January 14, 2020

WASHINGTON—Following today’s joint statement from the trade ministers of the United States, the European Union, and Japan, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the leading think tank for science and technology policy, issued the following comment from ITIF Associate Director for Trade Policy Nigel Cory:

Hear, hear! It is extremely encouraging that the trade ministers of the United States, the EU, and Japan are signaling a new phase of trilateral cooperation to push back on the innovation mercantilism China uses to gain advantage in cutting-edge, technology-driven industries. The story of the last several decades has been about how China used mercantilist practices to vault ahead in low-cost, labor-intensive manufacturing. Now it’s doubling down on the same formula to dominate advanced industries from aerospace to semiconductors. Without aggressive action to make China roll back its mercantilist agenda, the leading economies of Europe, Asia, and North America can expect to face a crushing wave of unfair competition—and fewer jobs—in those industries.

China has progressed economically and technologically to the point where it no longer worries about bilateral pressure, but strong, collective action can be a real deterrent. The Trilateral Meeting of Trade Ministers provides an ideal working platform for the United States, EU, and Japan to press forward with the kind of cooperation that’s needed. Now is the time to pursue a stronger, broader, and more proactive agenda.