China supports WTO reforms

Last week, the Chinese government issued China’s Position Paper on WTO reform and put forward three basic principles and five suggestions concerning such reforms.

Flag of China (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Flag of China
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Since China’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001, it has made continuous efforts to further align its policies with multilateral trade rules in all areas, honored its commitments on opening trade in goods and services and strengthened intellectual property rights (IPR) protection. For example, by 2010, China had fulfilled all of its tariff reduction commitments, reducing the average tariff level from 15.3% in 2001 to 9.8%. China has contributed significantly to not only the effective operation of the multilateral trading system, but also the stable world economic recovery and growth.
However, the multilateral trading system is now challenged by unilateralism and trade protectionism. WTO is threatened by three factors: the dispute settlement regime is at risk of paralysis by obstruction from certain members and the vacancy of its appellate body members is still not filled; certain members raising tariffs by abusing the security exception clause; and some members taking unilateral approaches in disregard of the WTO’s multilateral rules.
Against such a backdrop, China does believe WTO needs necessary reforms. Last week, the Chinese government issued China’s Position Paper on WTO reform and put forward three basic principles and five suggestions concerning such reforms.
WTO reform should follow three basic principles. The reform shall preserve the core values of the multilateral trading system, including non-discrimination and openness. The reform shall safeguard the development interests of developing members. The reform shall follow the practice of decision-making by consensus. The decision-making process shall be inclusive and open to all members, especially the developing ones. The reform cannot be dictated by a few, nor decided by an exclusive small group of members.
China proposes five suggestions for WTO reform. Firstly, the reform should uphold the primacy of the multilateral trading system. Secondly, the priority of the reform is to address the existing crisis or problems faced by the WTO. Thirdly, the reform should address the imbalance of trade rules and respond to the latest developments of our time. Fourthly, the reform should safeguard the special and differential treatment for developing members. Last, but not least, the reform should respect members’ development models.
China opposes any individual member’s actions in undermining and denying the authority of the multilateral trading system. Reforms should resolve the issues as soon as possible so as to ensure the normal functioning of the WTO. Reforms should rectify the long-term severe distortion of international trading of farm products caused by the excessive agricultural subsidies from developed members.
China is willing to shoulder duties commensurate with its development level and capacities, and will not allow other members to strip its special and differentiated treatment as a developing country. China is against the practice of listing the development model issue as part of WTO reforms and opposes introducing groundless accusations into the reform agenda.
Israel is an important member of WTO. China and Israel have common interests in safeguarding the multilateral trading system with equality and efficacy. China stands ready to make joint efforts with Israel to push forward WTO reform toward correct direction, which will for sure benefit the bilateral cooperation and the welfare of our two peoples.
The writer is Ambassador of China to Israel.