China rises to key role in WTO

Updated 2017-12-11 09:32:15 Global Times

Nation should not back down in dispute: experts

As China marks the 16th anniversary of joining the WTO on Monday, it has found itself in a complex situation with regard to its position in the global trade organization, with the country playing an increasingly important role but also facing a tough battle with the EU and U.S.

Since joining the multilateral trade body on December 11, 2001, China has been trying to make good on its promises to the WTO, carrying out massive reform and opening programs, but it has become clear that these efforts have not been fully recognized by some members of the organization who are failing to hold up their end of the bargain, experts noted on Sunday.

"It has become a really one-sided relationship between China and a few WTO members that have benefited massively from China's accession to the WTO in the past 16 years. They still thwart China at every corner and refuse to keep their promises," Jiang Yong, a research fellow at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times on Sunday.

China is currently in a legal battle with the EU and the U.S. at the WTO regarding China's market economy status, a key issue that has huge implications for trade between China and other WTO members.

Under the terms of China's accession to the WTO, other members could levy anti-dumping duties on Chinese goods using the analogue country method, but that expired on December 11, 2016, at which point China should have been granted recognition as a market economy.

However, the EU and the U.S. have refused to recognize China as a market economy and are continuing to use the analogue country method in determining anti-dumping duties on Chinese goods, prompting China to take the case to the WTO. Officials at the WTO conducted hearings on the case on Wednesday.

Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said that the EU and the U.S. were being "irresponsible and irrational" in their refusal to recognize China's market economy status.

"This is a promise they made and a responsibility they need to fulfill as members of the WTO. But they are completely ignoring the rules of the WTO," Bai told the Global Times on Sunday.

Jiang said that China should reconsider how it approaches the WTO. "We can keep our heads down and work on the promises and make contributions to global trade, as we have been, but this has proven unfair to China. If you don't fight back, they will continue to pick on you."

The two experts noted that China has benefited a lot from the WTO but the world economy has also benefited massively from China's contribution to global economic growth, foreign trade and investment.

Contribution to global trade

Since China joined the WTO, tens of thousands of foreign companies have entered the Chinese market and the country remains a very attractive destination for foreign investment, experts said.

In the first 10 months of the year, China attracted more than billion in foreign direct investment, up 5 percent year-on-year, according to data released by the Ministry of Commerce on November 14.

China's trade continues to grow, helping to drive global demand. In the first 11 months of the year, China's trade volume rose 15.6 percent from the previous year to 25.14 trillion yuan (.8 trillion), data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Friday.

"China has become a main driving force for global trade and a strong defender of the multilateral trade system. China's role has become more important than ever before," Bai said.

"China will continue to carry out its reform and opening plans and continue to contribute to the global economy, regardless of what the EU and the U.S. say or do," he said.

China has kept opening up domestic industries to foreign investors, including the financial sector. And officials have signalled that this won't stop.

In a speech at the 2017 Fortune Global Forum held in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province last week, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said China will further ease market access for foreign investors, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday.[Special Coverage]

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