The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has announced the formation of a new Bilateral Evaluation and Dispute Resolution Office to monitor China’s implementation of its commitments under the ‘Phase One’ agreement and work with China’s corresponding organisation to address disputes that arise over implementation matters. 

Ambassador Jeffrey Gerrish will serve as the designated deputy USTR heading the new Bilateral Evaluation and Dispute Resolution Office, which aims to allow the parties to resolve disputes in a “fair and expeditious manner.”

The new body will meet with China’s corresponding office on a monthly basis at the “designated official” level, on a quarterly basis at the deputy USTR vice minister level, and on a semi-annual basis at the USTR vice-premier level. 

As part of the arrangement, a party can formally initiate a dispute by submitting an ‘appeal’ to the other party’s Bilateral Evaluation and Dispute Resolution Office. Consultations then take place in an attempt to resolve the dispute, first at the designated official level and then, if needed, at the deputy USTR-vice minister level, and finally at the USTR vice-premier level. 

If the dispute is not resolved through these consultations, the complaining party is allowed to take proportionate responsive action that it deems appropriate after providing advance notice to the party complained against.  The entire dispute resolution process will take about 90 days. 

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In addition, it has been agreed that the complaining party in a dispute is not required to include information that could identify any company at issue or confidential business information.

The ‘Phase One’ trade deal was signed between the two countries on 22 January after almost two years of tensions.  

Earlier this month, in the wake of the agreement, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed that Tranche 4 tariffs on goods imported from China will be cut in half from 14 February, while China has confirmed it is also halving duties on some US imports.