Thursday, December 29, 2011

China - A decade in the WTO

A series of articles on China's decade in the WTO is found in "A Decade in the WTO : Implications for China and Global Trade Governance" brought out by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) in December 2011 provides interesting insights into China's journey as a passive onlooker to an active participant in the multilateral trading system.

Some excerpts:
1. Xiaozhun Yi, Permanent Mission of China to the WTO
" The most profound impact brought by China’s accession is that the country has now fully embraced the rule-based spirit upheld by the WTO. Concepts, such as non-discrimination, transparency and rule of law are no longer trade jargon, but common words for the general public."

2.Harsha V. Singh,World Trade Organization
"China’s participation in the WTO has been evolving, from a focus on being more reticent but learning about the process, to one of much more active participation. The focus on learning about the process and systemic interest can be seen for example from the fact that China has been the most frequent third party in WTO disputes, being a third party in 79 disputes. 
Just as the world considers China’s economic prowess differently after the economic crisis, we have seen an emergence of a more active China in the multilateral trading system. This will imply more intense engagement to address the concerns and important emerging issues emphasized by various WTO Members."

3.Zhenyu Sun, China Society for World Trade Organization Studies (CWTO)
"China’s determination to continue its policy of opening and reform contributes to world economic prosperity. As a new member of the WTO, China is always ready to learn. The trade policy review process gave China the opportunity to listen to comments and complaints from other Members, which helped identify areas where further reform and improvement were needed. At the same time, through the trade policy reviews of other Members, China has learned from their successes and drawn lessons from their setbacks. 
China’s recent emphasis on expanding domestic consumption and encouraging imports, as well as its encouragement to Chinese enterprises to invest abroad in its next five-year development program, are no doubt good news for all WTO Members."

4.Henry Gao, Singapore Management University
"In its first decade in the WTO, China has successfully made the transition from a Member that was reluctant or even afraid to use the dispute settlement system to one that is increasingly confident and skillful in using it to advance its legitimate interests."

5. Razeen Sally, European Centre for International Politics and Economics
" When China joined the WTO, it regarded itself as a “price-taker” in the world trading system; it acted rather like a small- or medium-sized open economy that could only adapt to the international terms of trade. 
Unilateral liberalization, reinforced by strong WTO commitments, was the policy prescription. Now, Chinese policymakers think of China as a member of a club of three: like the US and the EU, it can influence international terms of trade and world prices – or so it believes. That shifts the policy inference away from unilateral liberalization to reciprocity. But, given the speed and scale of this transformation, China has evident difficulty in acting like a rule-setter and system-shaper – in other words, like a leader (or co-leader) of the world trade order. That causes problems for China and its trading partners; it creates uncertainty and instability, and it increases the risk that China might be a “spoiler” in trade policy."

6. Scott Kennedy, Research Center for Chinese Politics & Business at Indiana University
" China still sees itself as a developing country that can exert quiet leadership in Geneva but that must keep its focus on solving domestic economic challenges. Western countries would like China to take on a role and be more open to concessions that are consistent with its growing economic strength and dynamism."

7. Faizel Ismail, Permanent Mission of South Africa to the WTO
"China’s rise has increased the bargaining power of developing countries in the multilateral system. This has covered a range of areas, including the IMF, the World Bank and the Climate Change negotiations. China’s accession to the WTO has coincided with an increased assertiveness of developing countries in the Doha Round of trade negotiations. China has played a positive and constructive role, joining in the struggles of developing countries to create fairer, more balanced and development-friendly trade rules in the WTO."

8.Debapriya Bhattacharya, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)
"China’s accession to WTO will present both opportunities and challenges for LDCs. The effects of China’s accession on other developing countries are likely to be felt in two areas. In the goods and service markets, there will be increased competition from Chinese exporters in the world market as well as increased export opportunities in China. In the international capital market, competition for FDI is likely to intensify as the Chinese market becomes more open to foreign investment."

9.Shuaihua Cheng, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development 
"A decade in the WTO has proved China’s incredible capability to grow. The question for the next decade is whether and how China can grow with less pain at home and abroad."

2012 awaits China. However, according to this piece,which forecasts a trade deficit for China in 2012, the next year is not too bright for the 2nd largest economy.

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