China to stress reform of WTO
China will uphold reform and inclusive growth of the World Trade Organization, and champion the cause of legitimate rights of developing countries so that the multilateral trading system can play a bigger role in addressing global challenges and facilitating post-COVID economic recovery, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.
The ministry made the remarks ahead of the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from Sunday to Wednesday.
China's Commerce Minister Wang Wentao will attend the meeting, which is branded as the "MC12".
China will actively participate in the MC12, and support the reform of the WTO in the right direction. The country will also bolster the status of the multilateral trading system as the main channel of making international rules, said Shu Jueting, spokeswoman for the Commerce Ministry.
Attended by trade ministers and other senior officials from the organization's more than 160 members, the MC12 is the WTO's highest decision-making body.
Since economic globalization has encountered headwinds, unilateralism and protectionism have been on the rise in recent years. The appellate body under the dispute settlement mechanism of the WTO has been suspended, and the authority and effectiveness of the WTO have been seriously threatened, Shu noted.
After the appellate body under the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism got paralyzed in late 2019, a number of WTO members, including Australia, Canada, China and the European Union, jointly issued a ministerial statement that they have decided to establish the multi-party Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement in March 2020.
They formally notified the WTO that the interim appeals arrangement had entered into force and invited other WTO members to participate on May 1, 2020.
Moreover, the severe COVID-19 pandemic situation has created challenges for the WTO. All parties are keen to see the WTO resume normal operations at an early date and advance its rules, Shu said.
"At present, WTO members are engaged in intensive consultations on intellectual property rights exemption for COVID-19 vaccines, epidemic response, fisheries subsidies, agriculture, food security and other topics," she said, adding they will also discuss the future priorities of the WTO during the upcoming conference.
Xue Rongjiu, deputy director of the Beijing-based China Society for WTO Studies, said WTO reform and free trade deals acquire added significance amid a partial and uneven global economic recovery.
Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising prices of commodities and energy, global trade has become even more important now than before. All the countries and regions depend on open, transparent and rules-based trade. That alone can provide reliable access to essential goods and services, which can boost their economies and stabilize the job market, he said.
Shu recalled that US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said recently the US President has given the order to look into the option of lifting some additional tariffs on China in order to combat the current high inflation level. She reiterated that amid high inflation, removal of additional US tariffs on imports from China would protect the fundamental interests of US consumers and businesses. Such a course of action would also benefit the United States, China and the rest of the world, she said.
China, she said, always has been eager to press ahead with high-standard opening-up. The country has been making solid progress toward holding the fifth China International Import Expo as scheduled in November in Shanghai. Over 75 percent of exhibition areas have been booked by exhibitors, including more than 250 Fortune 500 companies and industry leaders from across the world.
Preparations for country exhibitions at the expo are also progressing smoothly, with many countries confirming their participation. Preparatory work for activities such as the Hongqiao Forum and other cultural exchange events are also underway.
Jean-Christophe Pointeau, president of Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group China, said openness is of great significance to the current global environment that has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Facing the changes unseen in a century like the challenges of the pandemic and the turbulence of the global situation, China has never stopped the pace of implementing opening-up," he said. "The country has steadily advanced the annual CIIE, which provides broader opportunities for industry exchanges and stronger confidence."
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