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Ambassador ZHOU Pingjian: China Supports Reform of WTO

On December 4, 2018, Nigerian newspaper Peoples Daily published an article written by Ambassador of China to Nigeria Dr.ZHOU Pingjian. The full text goes as follows:


The rules-based multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core, is now challenged by unilateralism and trade protectionism.

Three factors threaten the WTO. One, the dispute settlement regime is at risk of paralysis by obstruction from certain members and as the vacancy of its Appellate Body members cannot be filled. Second, certain members raising tariffs by abusing the security exception clause. Third, some members taking unilateral approaches in disregard of the WTO's multilateral rules.

The world today is undergoing major development, transformation and change. While economic globalization surges forward, global growth is shadowed by protectionism and unilateralism which have become stumbling blocks preventing the relevant WTO mechanisms from performing their roles.

China supports necessary reform of the WTO, in order to strengthen its authority and efficacy, to build an open economy, and pursue a community with a shared future for mankind. To this end, the Chinese government published the "China's Position Paper on WTO reform" On November 23.

According to the position paper, the WTO reform should follow three fundamental principles, namely, to preserve the organization's core values including non-discrimination and openness, to safeguard development interests of developing members and address their difficulties in integrating into economic globalization, and, to follow the practice of decision-making by consensus.

The position paper also put forward five suggestions.

Firstly, the WTO reform should uphold the primacy of the multilateral trading system. Some members are trying to introduce "new concepts" or "new terminologies" into the reform agenda, which could undermine the authority of multilateral trading system in a disguised way. China firmly opposes these attempts. The reform should reinforce the centrality of the multilateral trading system in international trade liberalization and facilitation.

Secondly, the priority of the reform is to address the existential crisis/problems faced by the WTO. The reform should take up and resolve the issue of Appellate Body member appointment blockage as soon as possible and rein in actions of unilateralism and protectionism with the strings of the WTO rules so as to ensure the smooth functioning of the WTO.

Thirdly, the reform should address the imbalance of trade rules and respond to the latest developments of our time. The reform should rectify the severe long-term distortion of international trading of farm products caused by the excessive agricultural subsidies from developed members. The reform should prevent abuse of trade remedy measures especially the "surrogate country" methodology in anti-dumping investigations.

Fourthly, the reform should safeguard the special and differential treatment for developing members. China is the largest developing country in the world and is willing to take up commitments commensurate with its level of development and economic capability. However, China will never agree to be deprived of its entitlement to special and deferential treatment as a developing member.

Last but not least, the reform should respect the development model of each member. Discrimination against enterprises of certain members in investment security review and anti-trust investigations should be prohibited. The reform should address the abuse by developed members of export control measure in obstructing technology cooperation. China opposes special and discriminatory disciplines against SOEs in the name of WTO reform, and the inclusion of issues based on groundless accusations in the WTO reform agenda.   

The WTO reform has a bearing on the vital interests and development space of developing countries. China's position paper fully reflects China's constructive manner as the largest developing country and a major responsible country. Africa is the continent with most developing countries and Nigeria is the largest developing country in Africa. It is in our mutual interest to speak with one voice and jointly guide the development of the WTO reform process in the right direction. China is willing to work together with Nigeria and Africa to uphold the multilateral trading system and oppose acts of unilateralism in a bid to support common development.

(Dr. Zhou Pingjian is Ambassador of China to Nigeria)





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