China fully delivers on its WTO pledges

(China Daily) 10:02, November 06, 2021

China has fully delivered on its accession commitments to the World Trade Organization, and its concrete actions to continuously expand opening-up have been spurring domestic development while injecting fresh impetus into the global economy, according to political leaders, experts and business executives on Friday.

They also said that WTO reforms should be conducive in safeguarding free trade and multilateralism, to reflect the interests of all and benefit all, especially the legitimate rights and interests of developing members.

Vice-President Wang Qishan said that based on its own conditions and the general trend of the world, China has been deepening reforms and expanding opening-up, to develop itself and benefit the world. He was speaking at the high-level session on the 20th anniversary of China's accession to the WTO, which was held on Friday in Shanghai as a sideline event of the fourth China International Import Expo and the Hongqiao International Economic Forum.

"With fully delivering on the commitment to opening-up, China has actively advanced independent development, to create a new wave of economic development for itself and the world," Wang said.

Since joining the WTO in 2001, China has made vigorous efforts to align itself with and abide by the organization's rules and open its market.

China's overall tariff rate has been lowered from 15.3 percent to 7.4 percent. The level is lower than that of all developing members and close to that of developed members of the organization, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Wang said that China, the world's second-largest economy, now contributes to about 30 percent of global economic growth.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the WTO, said China today plays a central role in global trade, and has successfully positioned itself at the core of many global value chains.

"These production and trade networks have not only provided a lifeline for many countries during the pandemic, but they've also increased the quantity, quality and variety of goods available around the world," she said at the event via video.

Leon Wang, executive vice-president of pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, said China joining the WTO was a milestone both for China's opening-up and economic globalization.

The two decades since have been a period of deep integration, shared opportunity and joint growth between China and the rest of the world, and the Chinese market offers huge potential for foreign investors, he said.

According to the World Openness Report 2021 on the openness of 129 economies between 2008 and 2019, the global openness index had declined to 0.748 from 0.779 over that period, mainly due to a decline in North America.

The report was released jointly on Friday by the Institute of World Economics and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Research Center for the Hongqiao International Economic Forum.

China's ranking on the openness index, on the contrary, rose from 62nd in 2008 to 40th in 2019, growing from 0.6768 to 0.742, the report showed.

That marked China's great contribution to global openness while injecting positive energy to the enhancement of exchanges among mankind, according to Zhang Yuyan, director of the institute.

Lensey Chen, president of the China arm of Novozymes, a Danish biological solutions provider and expert in enzymes and microbes, said with openness as the hallmark of China's growth, the country has seen its economy increasingly intertwined with its partners, and Novozymes will continue to increase its investment in China.

With rising protectionism in some countries, officials and experts also said the WTO could maintain its vitality only by constantly adapting to the development and changes of the global economy, and by reflecting the interests and requirements of all, especially developing countries.

Hong Junjie, vice-president of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said the WTO reforms must balance well the interests of developed and developing members to strengthen its effectiveness and authority, as different development levels have resulted in different appeals and demands for reforms among its members.

He also suggested that WTO reforms should progress as soon as possible with urgent issues such as the recovery of the functions of the organization's appellate body.

(Web editor: Wu Chaolan, Bianji)


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