Industrial upgrading, innovation 'key to competitiveness'
China aims to join the international community in safeguarding an open and stable trade environment, resolutely opposing protectionism and tackling common challenges and difficulties through talks and cooperation, a Chinese official said Thursday.
The comment came after media reported that since the start of 2017, high anti-dumping and countervailing duties have been imposed on China-made products, leading to concerns that trade protectionism may be the largest risk for the world economy this year.
"Protectionism is rising in the global market due to the sluggish world economy. From October 2015 to May 2016, G20 members have added 145 trade restriction measures … as the largest exporter in the world, China is the main target of protectionism," Sun Jiwen, spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), told a press conference in Beijing.
At least 27 countries and regions launched 119 trade remedy cases against Chinese products in 2016, with trade worth .34 billion, according to MOFCOM.
"China respects foreign countries' rights to use customary trade remedy measures but it worries about the conduct and inclination of some countries. Those markets frequently invoke trade remedy investigations to harm domestic firms' legal rights and interests and overprotect their own industries," Sun noted.
He said "we think that the abuse of trade remedy measures will injure the impartiality, authority and effectiveness of relevant rules and cannot help address problems faced by those protected companies."
Sun said that it will also harm the interests of upstream and downstream industries and consumers and possibly disturb the global trade order.
Since the global trade and investment situation becomes tougher, posing more threats to China this year, the nation needs to identify its own problems to better tackle challenges, said Li Jian, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.
Li told the Global Times on Thursday that "the truth is that China should step up efforts to advance the transformation and upgrading of domestic industries as well as nurture new competitive advantages by innovation and further opening up its market."
He said that labor-intensive sectors such as steel and some new industries such as photovoltaic power are likely to face the highest trade barriers in 2017.
G20 leaders restated their consensus at the Hangzhou Summit in September 2016 that members oppose any form of protectionism in global trade and investment, according to Sun.
China is willing to work with the international community to secure an open, stable and predictable global trade environment and the government will take necessary measures to protect the safety of Chinese industries and legal rights of domestic enterprises, the spokesman said.