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China to fight protectionism
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08:11, April 20, 2009

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China has become a major victim of trade protectionism, Deputy Commerce Minister Yi Xiaozhun said as he called for joint moves against protectionism.

"China is one of the most affected victims of restrictive trade measures," he told the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference on Saturday. "From January to June last year, 40 percent of anti-dumping investigations and 70 percent of countervailing investigations globally are targeting Chinese products."

He said protectionism could be expected to rise during an economic downturn. According to the World Bank, 17 members of the G20 have resorted to protective trade methods since last November.

"China holds a clear-cut position against any form of trade protectionism and the nation won't practice any protectionism of its own," Yi said.

He also called on all World Trade Organization (WTO) members to push ahead with the Doha Round of talks, which he expected to help rebuild confidence and restrain trade protectionism.

The trade talks, which started in the Qatar capital Doha in 2001, aim to create a more open trade environment but have repeatedly stalled, due mainly to splits between developed and developing countries on key issues such as agricultural subsidies and tariffs.

Rich countries should allow more agricultural products from poor countries into their markets, said Bob Hawke, former prime minister of Australia, who attended the BFA.

Yi added the central government had noticed that some regulations by provincial or city governments violated the spirit of the WTO.

China's commerce ministry is removing regulations of this kind and ensuring new policies abide by WTO rules.

During the same session of the forum, Pascal Lamy, director-general of the WTO, urged world leaders to push back trade protectionism amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

"Protectionism does not protect," he said.

The global trade chief said trade openness is "part of the solution" to the financial crisis and it is crucial that international trade rules be improved to become fairer for developing economies as their hopes to address the crisis lie in trade.

The WTO predicted that global trade would plunge 9 percent this year as the recession deepens.

Lamy also called on other countries to act the same as China, which signed a currency-swap agreement with trade partners to ease foreign exchange shortages and increase global financing to support trade flows.

"Overall, the financial crisis is an opportunity for the completion of the Doha Round of talks," Lamy said at a panel discussion Doha Round: Leading Out of Crisis at the BFA.

Early this month, leaders at the London G20 summit agreed to infuse about $250 billion into the economy over the next two years to revive global trade hampered by the financial crisis.

The move is expected to give a push to the Doha Round of trade talks.

Source: China Daily

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