United States Trade Representative says China waste import ban is issue “to be addressed”

US Congress

The United States Trade Representative has included China’s ban on importing recyclable materials as one of a number of measures that need to be addressed.

In its annual report to Congress, the United States Trade Representative said that China’s actions on global trade has meant the US has needed to take action outside of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), due to China’s poor adherence to WTO rules.


As a result of the pressure it put on China, the US was able to sign the first phase of a trade agreement between the two in January 2020. It is now looking forward to what measures China will need to work on towards the next phase of a trade deal and in particular the issues that “remain to be addressed on our trade relationship with China”.

In a section called Import Ban on Recyclable Materials, the United States Trade Representative notes that since 2017 “China has issued numerous measures that limit or ban imports of most scrap and recovered materials, such as certain types of plastic, paper and metals”.

It adds that China has introduced import and licensing measures to restrict imports of materials and this appears “to be contrary to international standards” and that “Notably, it appears that China does not apply similar restrictions to domestically sourced scrap and recovered materials”.

US exports of recyclable materials to China totalled $479 million (£350 million) in 2016 but this had falled to almost nothing in 2020 it said.

The report adds: “In 2020, together with other WTO members, the United States continued to raise its serious concerns with China.

“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.”

While this report was written under the Presidency of Donald Trump, the new Joe Biden administration is expected to take a similar tough stance with China in order to encourage the country to deal with the trade issues outlined in the report.

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