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China gets praises, expectations in WTO trade policy review

(Xinhua)

09:11, June 15, 2012

GENEVA, June 14 (Xinhua) -- The World Trade Organization's (WTO) fourth trade policy review (TPR) of China concluded here on Thursday. While most WTO members commended China's more important role in the world economy, some also raised higher expectations and believed China should take more responsibilities.

During the two-day review, WTO members conducted a collective evaluation of the full range of China's trade policies and practices and their impact on the functioning of the multilateral trading system.

Yu Jianhua, head of the Chinese delegation and assistant minister of commerce, told members about the macro-environment for China's economy and trade, trade and investment development and related policies.

Eduardo Munoz Gomez, chairman of the Trade Policy Review Body, said in his concluding remarks on Thursday that this review of China has taken place against the background of the lingering effects of the global financial and economic crises and the difficult economic situation that continues to prevail.

"Members were encouraged to note that China has kept its markets open and resisted protectionist pressures during this difficult period," he said.

China has received a record number of more than 1,700 written questions before the deadline from nearly 30 members, including the United States, the European Union (EU), Brazil and India. A total of 42 members made statements during the review.

TPR is an exercise mandated in the WTO agreements, in which members' trade and related policies are examined and evaluated at regular intervals. Significant developments that may have an impact on the global trading system are also monitored.

All WTO members are subject to review, with the frequency of review depending on the member's size. The United States, China, the EU and Japan are reviewed every two years.

Gomez said the keen interest shown by members in this review testifies to the important role played by China in international trade and in the WTO.

Many members said China has been among their top three trading partners and they have tight and all-round economic and trade relations with China.

"This fourth TPR of China has given us a sense of China's growing importance in the world economy in general and in the multilateral trading system in particular," said the chairman.

That's why China's trade policies have more and more impact on other WTO members, the world economy and the multilateral trade system. It also explains why members have been interested in hearing government views of China's economic prospects for the next few years -- will China stick to the reform and opening up?

Yu said the Chinese government has firmly and steadily pushed forward reforms in key areas with greater determination and courage in the past two years.

He reiterated China's unwavering determination of reform and opening up and the direction for it will not change.

Steffen Smidt, discussant of China TPR, ambassador and permanent representative of Denmark to the WTO, said there have been gradual steps taken by Beijing in the direction of further opening up the economy to international competition, and this should not be mistaken for standing still.

"My reading of China's experience over the past two years is that the will to continue the reform program is undoubtedly there," he said.

Yu said many questions raised by the WTO members have been in line with next steps China will take to deepen reforms and the direction of its 12th Five-Year Plan.

The questions will be delivered to relevant departments of Chinese government, which will provide solutions to them, while for some questions in which misunderstanding exists, China will try to make more clarifications, remove doubts and enhance mutual trust.

Some members expected China to play a greater role in the WTO during the review.

Yu told Xinhua that China is currently the world's second biggest economy, but its per capita GDP is ranked 90th in the world, which is rare among WTO members.

"China will continue to contribute to the world economy and the multilateral trade system according to the national conditions and our own capacity," Yu said.

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