Interview: Expert says WTO accession promotes China's rapid growth amid economic globalization

2021-12-07 08:51

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GENEVA, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) has accelerated the country's economic globalization process and promoted its rapid growth, said Sun Zhenyu, China's first ambassador to the WTO.

China officially joined the WTO on Dec. 11, 2001, becoming the 143rd member of the trade body. As China's first ambassador to the WTO, Sun began his nine-year diplomatic mission in Geneva in January 2002.

Since China became a WTO member, its trade has continued to grow rapidly. Chinese enterprises have withstood international competition and unleashed enormous potential, Sun told Xinhua in a written interview lately.

There were less than 20 Chinese companies on the Fortune Global 500 list two decades ago, but the number reached 133 in 2020, surpassing the United States for the first time.

China has fully delivered on its accession commitments to the WTO, revised its laws and regulations in line with its WTO commitments, and created an economic and trade system that meets WTO rules as planned, Sun said.

The average tariff has been reduced from 15.3 percent in 2001 to 9.8 percent in 2010. By 2020, the average tariff level has further dropped to 7.4 percent. Former WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy gave China an A+ rating for meeting WTO commitments, he added.

During his mission in Geneva, Sun witnessed China's influence in the WTO increasing. He said that China participated in all major WTO negotiations after the fifth WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun, Mexico, in 2003.

Sun recalled that China's accession to the WTO came at the time when the Doha Round of WTO talks began, during which China cooperated with dozens of developing countries on agriculture, intellectual property rights and public health negotiations.

China has also made positive contributions to the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and the Information Technology Agreement expansion negotiations, he said.

Noting that unilateralism and anti-globalization have had a great impact on the multilateral trading system in recent years, Sun said the reform of the WTO under the new situation has no time to wait in the face of the global economic downturn triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regarding the restoration of WTO functions, Sun believes that the reinstatement of the Appellate Body should be high on the agenda, adding that the resumption of WTO trade negotiations should not be neglected.

He also suggested that in response to the pandemic, the WTO could learn from the successful experience of the negotiations over intellectual property protection and public health in 2003, and seek concrete results in waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines.
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