China: a model of observing WTO rules, a champion of economic globalization

By H.E. Dr. Zhao Yongchen

Economic globalisation is a natural outcome of scientific breakthroughs and technological progress. In the past decades, it has powered global growth, and enabled steady progress in poverty alleviation worldwide.

Currently, the world is undergoing a new round of major development, great change and profound readjustment, calling for fairer environment and closer cooperation globally for common development for all countries.

Since its accession to the WTO, China has been a strong advocate for free trade, comprehensively fulfilling its WTO obligations and keeping to its promises, even when it means enormous efforts and costs.

Remarkable improvements have been made in enhancing the stability, transparency, and predictability of its opening-up policies.

China has contributed significantly to the effective operation of the multilateral trading system. Since 2002, China’s contribution to global economic growth has approached 30 percent on average, and the international community is well aware of these important contributions China has made to the world economy.

China has been a staunch supporter of the core values and basic principles of the WTO. China believes that only when the international rules are obeyed in the spirit of contract can the authority and effectiveness of the multilateral trading regime be upheld. As an advocate for an open world economy, China has been participating in trade negotiations and other WTO works in a constructive way, including promoting trade liberalisation and facilitation via joining the Trade Facilitation Agreement, and vigorously supporting the integration of developing members into the multilateral trading system.

During the 22nd APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Beijing, the G20 Hangzhou Summit, and the BRICS Xiamen Summit, all hosted by China, we secured statements on supporting the multilateral trading system and opposing trade protectionism in the outcome documents of these summits. China has never imposed unilateral measures on others, nor have we acted against the basics of the WTO, namely free and open trade, non-discrimination, tariff constraints and special and differential treatment, and we have not the slightest intention of doing these things in the future. In face of major matters of principle, China will always prioritise principle, credibility and responsibility.

The Chinese government made the decision to join the WTO 17 years ago out of a strong conviction that economic globalisation corresponds with the call of the times and a high degree of trade liberalisation and openness leads to mutual benefit and win-win results. Such conviction remains the same and has been guiding our actions all along the past 17 years.
China has considerably lowered the duties on imported automobiles.

From 2001 to 2017, imports of passenger cars with certain engine displacement registered an annual growth rate of 26.4%, with the auto trade deficit surging from US$ 870 million to US$34.35 billion. After its accession, China launched major efforts to review and revise relevant laws and regulations, involving 2,300 laws, regulations and departmental rules at central government level, and 190,000 policies and regulations at sub-central government levels.




China firmly supports the multilateral trading system. The multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core is the cornerstone of international trade, and has been playing a pivotal role in promoting global trade and building an open world economy.

Since its accession to the WTO, China has firmly supported the multilateral trading system, participated in all aspects of WTO work.

It called upon the WTO to focus more on the concerns of developing members, opposed unilateralism and protectionism, upheld the authority and efficacy of the multilateral trading system, and made concerted efforts with other members in supporting the WTO to play a greater role in economic globalisation,” it says. In this regard, China has always been a loyal promotor of economic globalisation.

Here are some facts and figures that China has comprehensively fulfilled its commitments to the WTO with regard to lowering tariffs on goods, opening up to trade in services, eliminating import quotas and other non-tariff measures.

The average tariff level was reduced from 15.3 percent in 2001 to 9.8 percent. Foreign trade by private companies and foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) accounted for 83.7 percent of the country’s total trade volume, up from 57.5 percent in 2001. China has step by step lowered the threshold for foreign investment to enter the services sectors.
Since 2001, intellectual property royalties paid by China to foreign right holders have registered an annual growth of 17 percent, and invention patent applications China received in 2017 ranked the first in the world for the seventh consecutive year.

China is actively advancing opening-up to a higher level. Fulfilling China’s WTO commitments has never been the end point of its opening-up. In the face of the overwhelming trend of economic globalisation and its winding path, China keeps pace with the times, takes firm steps to expand opening-up, and makes continuous efforts to open up in a more comprehensive, profound and diversified way, with a view to achieving greater mutual benefit and win-win outcomes.

On the other hand, economic globalisation has also caused new problems that should not be neglected. The root cause of these structural problems is not economic globalisation per se, but the failure of the existing systems of global governance to keep up with profound changes in the world economic landscape. Mankind still faces growing uncertainties and destabilising factors.

Surging tides of anti-globalisation in recent years, coupled with rising protectionism and unilateralism, have posed severe challenges to the multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core. Thus, de-globalisation measures are unlikely to solve the problems, and could even create new challenges for global growth. The world must actively adapt to the force of economic globalisation and reform global governance.

In the vicissitude of the changing and complex global economic situation, China will continue to uphold the principle of achieving shared benefits through consultation and collaboration in advancing the Belt and Road Initiative, so as to provide others with opportunities to take a ride on the express train of China’s development.

China and the multilateral trading system stand together through thick and thin. China will continue to fulfill its commitments, comply with rules, actively participate in the improvement of the multilateral trading system, and give firm support to the WTO in playing a greater role in global economic governance.

(Dr. Zhao Yongchen is the resident ambassador of China to Grenada)

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