China set to play bigger role in multilateral trade system

Updated 2017-12-19 10:00:20 Global Times

China is expected to further open up its market to the world and to play a larger role in the multilateral trading system, experts said on Monday.

The 11th WTO Ministerial Conference, which closed in Argentina on Thursday, faced challenges due to some countries like the U.S. trying to go back to bilateral trading mechanisms, said experts from the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization (CCG) at a meeting in Beijing.

The experts held a discussion about how the multilateral trading system will evolve and how China could make a larger contribution to the system.

The WTO now faces a hard time because there is no leader in the organization that can guide other members to address the difference of interests, said He Ning, a senior fellow of the CCG.

"Given such a situation, bilateral trading systems and free trade zones (FTZs) will enjoy rising popularity," He said, noting that no matter how FTZs develop across the world, it should be based on the WTO multilateral trading system.

He Weiwen, senior fellow with the CCG, agreed, saying that WTO members should work to get through the hard times despite pressure on the multilateral trading system from the U.S.

China should carefully inspect its own domestic and foreign policies to better deal with trade relations with other countries such as the U.S., Huo Jianguo, senior CCG research fellow and vice chairman of the China Society for WTO Studies, told the meeting.

Although the U.S. is eagerly seeking cooperation under bilateral trading systems, the country is not likely to quit the WTO, Huo forecast, noting that China should roll out countermeasures to deal with U.S. trade actions against Chinese products.

The experts noted that as the world economic structure has changed since the global financial crisis in 2008 and as the international economic order based on WTO rules faces challenges, emerging markets, represented by China, are expected to become a vital driving force for global economic development.

As a strong proponent of the multilateral trading system, China has made contributions to the Trade Facilitation Agreement Fund with a view to helping the WTO members that are having difficulty in implementing the agreement, Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan said at the plenary session of the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference on December 11.

He Ning said that China could increase imports to give the nation a larger role in economic activities globally.

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