Is Morrison now Trump’s proxy in trade war?

Scott Morrison is extremely disciplined in comments he makes around China, but saying that China is now a developed country isn’t praise. It’s telling the Chinese that it’s time to get real and admit that they no longer need the advantages of developing country status in the WTO.

They’re not going to be happy.

So why does a country want to be developing? Because membership has its rewards, as the WTO explains:

The WTO Agreements contain special provisions which give developing countries special rights and which give developed countries the possibility to treat developing countries more favourably than other WTO Members. These special provisions include, for example, longer time periods for implementing Agreements and commitments or measures to increase trading opportunities for developing countries.

These provisions are referred to as “special and differential treatment” (S&D) provisions.

The special provisions include:

  • longer time periods for implementing Agreements and commitments,

  • measures to increase trading opportunities for developing countries,

  • provisions requiring all WTO members to safeguard the trade interests of developing countries,

  • support to help developing countries build the capacity to carry out WTO work, handle disputes, and implement technical standards, and

  • provisions related to least-developed country (LDC) Members.

What really annoys the US? Countries are self-classify as developing. There are no rules under the WTO.

Basically, Morrison is goading China to tell the truth. It’s a risky game for a country that needs China probably more than any other country on earth.