World Economy

WTO Highlights China Role in Global Growth

The WTO chief believes that China will be part of the efforts to make the organization more effective, and to figure out the problems with other members to improve the system
China’s role in WTO has increased a lot with its exports increasing  seven times and imports six times.China’s role in WTO has increased a lot with its exports increasing  seven times and imports six times.

Members of the World Trade Organization highlighted the importance of China's contribution to global growth in recent years as the institution concluded its Seventh Trade Policy Review of China on Friday.

"Members generally expressed appreciation for China's active role in the WTO. China, being the world's biggest merchandise trader and one of the largest recipients of FDI, its policies have a direct impact on the global economy," said Eloi Laourou, chairperson of the TPR body, in concluding remarks, Xinhua reported.

Laourou, also Benin's ambassador to the United Nations offices in Geneva, said that WTO members commended China on its recent initiatives aimed at broadening market access and investment opportunities, the greater involvement of the private sector in the economy and its commitment to fossil fuel subsidy reform.

"Members appreciated China's ongoing reform of customs procedures, such as further use of single windows, and commitments in the Trade Facilitation Agreement," the chairperson said.

Several members praised China on the Belt and Road Initiative, viewing it as "an avenue for mutual cooperation and growth."

Members also commended China's recent announcement of liberalization in financial services and tariff reductions in the automobile sector.

WTO agreements mandate that all members are subject to review under the TPR mechanism, in which a member's trade and related policies are examined and evaluated at regular intervals. The frequency of each member's review varies according to its share of world trade.

Sanctions to Benefit None

Since China joined the WTO in 2001, its role in the system has increased a lot with its exports increasing by seven times and imports by six times, the WTO chief Roberto Azevedo said.

China underwent its Seventh Trade Policy Review by the WTO from July 11 to 13, during which Azevedo told Chinese media that China's major achievements during this period also include lifting more than 500 million people out of poverty. "China has been a very active player throughout," he noted.

Looking forward, the WTO chief believed that China will be part of the efforts to make the organization even more effective, and to figure out the problems with other members to improve the system.

"This system has been under stress more recently, given these trade tensions all over the world," Azevedo said.

"So the way to reflect and react to these things is to be ahead of the curve and ready to do the things necessary to make the system even more effective, even stronger."

According to the WTO chief, the WTO has been doing the very best to make clear to everyone that these sanctions and restrictive measures are "not going to help anyone."

"Everybody loses in this scenario. Even those who think they may win, they don't. WTO has been trying to give this picture as clear as possible to everyone," he said.

Defending WTO Record

China defended its record in fulfilling commitments to the World Trade Organization, while sidestepping US criticisms that its market openings and protection of intellectual property have fallen short.

A white paper released by the government’s information office Thursday argued that China granted foreign access to its market after joining the WTO, as promised, lowering tariffs and other barriers.

At a briefing accompanying the release, Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said China had opened its services sector beyond its WTO commitments.

Wang denied forced technology transfers and didn’t address subsidies, without mentioning the US by name. “If companies of certain countries say China hasn’t done a good job, they can file a lawsuit against China at the WTO,” he said.

Complaints that Chinese trade practices distort global markets are at the heart of the (President Donald) Trump administration’s trade dispute with China. Trump is pushing ahead with tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods on July 6, which Beijing has said it would match in value. He has threatened tariffs on more than $400 billion of other Chinese goods should Beijing retaliate.

The European Union, which has tried to take a less confrontational approach than the US in addressing Chinese practices, reached an agreement this week with Beijing to work together to update WTO rules to address issues of government subsidies and technology transfers.

A resolution seems far off. European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said that it would take “quite some time” to modernize the global trading organization, and that the EU and Beijing held “different opinions” on the matter.

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