SCIO press conference on WTO's eighth trade policy review of China

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The number of questions raised by WTO members during the first phase (Sept. 29-Oct. 6) of the review reached 2,151. To answer these questions, we organized 62 departments to work overtime during the National Day holiday (Oct. 1-7) to conduct in-depth analysis of the questions and fully understand members' concerns. We responded to the questions by Oct. 19 in strict accordance with the time limit set by the WTO. After Oct. 6, additional questions were posed which we needed to answer within a month of Oct. 22. Responses totaling 400,000 words in Chinese and English have been made to questions of the first phase alone. 

During this review, Wang Wentao, minister of commerce and head of the Chinese delegation, highlighted three aspects in his keynote speech. First, through unremitting efforts and hard work as well as long-term commitment to the reform and opening-up policy, China has secured leapfrog economic growth, which has provided great opportunities for the world and made notable contributions to global economic development. Second, over the past 20 years since its accession to the WTO, China has strictly abided by WTO rules and earnestly delivered its commitments, serving as a firm supporter, active participant and important contributor for the multilateral trading system. Third, China has taken concrete actions to support international cooperation against COVID-19. At this review meeting, China also introduced in detail its development of economic and trade policies, and participation in the WTO's work since its seventh review in July 2018.  

Representatives from 65 WTO members spoke at the meeting of this review and made positive comments about China. First, they recognized that China has actively participated in the work of the WTO, keenly delivered its accession commitments, earnestly engaged in the fisheries subsidies negotiations, played a leading role in the investment facilitation negotiation, and played a constructive role in the e-commerce negotiations. Second, they spoke highly of China's important role in the international cooperation against COVID-19 and appreciated China's support for the WTO's early decision to waive intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines. Third, they thanked China for granting tariff-free treatment of imported products from the least developed countries (LDCs) and helping other developing members and LDCs integrate into the multilateral trading system. Fourth, they fully recognized China for actively lowering tariffs, shortening the negative list for foreign investment, widening market access, actively promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and providing a broad market for all other WTO members. Fifth, they spoke positively of the great potential of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in promoting trade and economic cooperation among relevant countries and bringing more development opportunities to partners.

As I've mentioned before, the trade policy review provides a very good platform for communication and dialogue. On this platform, member states can raise questions and avoid further misunderstandings through frank exchanges. During this meeting, member states have learned about China's economic and trade policies, such as the Belt and Road Initiative, transparency, intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, government procurement, state-owned enterprises, industries with overcapacity, dual circulation and trade surplus. In response to their concerns, we have given them written answers or delivered speeches during the conference. We have clarified and elaborated on these questions to help them better understand the situation. We also pointed out that, due to the limited time of the review – which only takes place for two to three days – we cannot address every aspect or fully explain all of them during the conference. So we would like to further our communication with other member states within the WTO framework. 

That concludes my briefing about the WTO's eighth trade policy review of China. Together with my colleague, Yan Dong, director general of the Department of WTO Affairs of the Ministry of Commerce, I'd like to take your questions. Thanks. 

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