Yi Xiaozhun:China largest contributor to multilateral trading system

May 19 , 2021

Yi Xiaozhun, former deputy director-general of the World Trade Organization, speaks during a symposium held by the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) in Beijing, May 14, 2021. [Photo courtesy of CCG]

While enjoying the benefits brought about by the multilateral trading system, China has become the largest contributor since its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, said Yi Xiaozhun, former deputy director-general of the WTO on May 14.

Yi, also former negotiator for China’s entry into the WTO, analyzed China’s import performances over the past two decades based on WTO data and recognized the role the country plays in boosting the world economy and facilitating global trade.

WTO statistics show that China’s total imports of goods increased sixfold over the past 20 years. Most recently in 2020, its imports of goods accounted for around 12% of the world’s total. Meanwhile, the country’s imports of services increased from 3.3% of the global total in 2005 to 8% in 2020.

“I think this speaks volumes about China’s contribution to global economic growth,” Yi said during a symposium held by the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based think tank.

As for trade relations between China and other countries, Yi noted that China has been the major export destination for the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) since 2008, absorbing a quarter of all their exported goods.

“As one of the very few developing countries within the WTO scheme, China has already promised to phase in zero-tariff treatment for 97% of export products from LDCs,” Yi added, stating that China has fulfilled its WTO commitments and lived up to its responsibility as a major country.

Yi’s observation is in line with a white paper released by China’s State Council Information Office in June 2018. The document, titled “China and the WTO,” reaffirmed China’s commitment to firmly observe and uphold WTO rules, and supports a multilateral trading system that is open, transparent, inclusive and non-discriminatory.

However, such a rule-based multilateral trading system has faced more headwinds in recent years due to a rise in protectionism and trade barriers. While more member states are calling for WTO reforms, Yi warned against the reform tendency which causes a decrease in economic globalization and damages multilateralism.

Yi emphasized that China should stay clearheaded about its position when facing various WTO reform proposals and initiatives. He said that more considerations should be made to determine whether these proposals intend to promote trade facilitation and liberation, or just use reform as an excuse to raise trade barriers. He also warned against attempts to split the WTO for geopolitical reasons.

“I think China should and has the ability to play a more proactive and unique part in the process of WTO reform,” Yi added.


From china.org.cn, 2021-5-19