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

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Xing Huina:

Now the floor is open to questions. Please identify your media outlet before raising questions.


What is China's view on the WTO's eighth trade policy review of China? What was achieved through this review?

Wang Shouwen:

Thank you for the questions. I just provided a brief about the review. In accordance with the existing rules of the WTO, China undergoes a WTO review every three years, with the last one having occurred in 2018. As such, this year marked the eighth trade policy review. In general, the review is routine work, but it has diversified content, meaning it delivers fruitful results and meets our expectations. It also demonstrates that the WTO's trade policy review, as one of the three pillars of the WTO, is still working well. Member states recognize the importance of the review and actively participate in it. Due to the impacts of COVID-19, we gathered online, and 65 representatives delivered their speeches during the conference. A record high of 2,562 questions were raised at the meeting, which was 16% higher than the number of questions raised during the seventh review in 2018. So this is a successful review. 

People raised abundant and diverse questions at the meeting. First, questions about the related agreements of the WTO. For example, regarding the goods trade, many have been concerned about China's implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement. In terms of the service trade, they have been curious about whether related regulations of China's Cybersecurity Law are in accordance with WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services. On the subject of IPR protection, people have been interested to know whether pertinent information can be released when ruling on cases related to IPR protection, or whether they are in accordance with regulations outlined in the WTO's Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. Second, WTO member states have raised questions that are beyond the framework of the WTO. These can be seen as their hopes or expectations. For example, they expect that China will further open its market, ease foreign access to the market, shorten the negative lists for foreign investment, and advance the replication and promotion of the achievements of institutional innovation made in pilot free trade zones to the whole country. We fully understand their concerns and expectations. For example, they would like to enter China's market. The pilot free trade zones have been progressing well. However, the current zones only cover a small area. They have been curious about whether the pilot free trade zones will be expanded nationwide so that they can enjoy easier access to the whole market of China. China has become a major trade country of the WTO's more than 120 member states. These member states have many expectations and raised abundant and diverse questions at the meeting.

The results achieved during the eighth policy trade review are as follows:

First, we elaborated on China's policies. Before the review meeting, we prepared a declaration by the Chinese government on China's policies, which is more than 20,000 characters. Today, we also brought the Chinese and English versions of the document to the press conference. You may read about it. In the declaration, we explain the development and changes of China's latest trade policies, through which people may understand China's efforts and determination to push forward its reform and opening-up. At the same time, the secretariat of the WTO also prepared a report on China's trade policies from their perspective. Through these two documents, member states of the WTO can glean a deeper understanding of the changes to China's trade policies over the past three years. 

Second, we explained and clarified responses to the concrete concerns of member states. Some of the member states were a bit confused about the direction of China's policies and had questions about it. For example, they worry about the new development paradigm of "dual circulation" proposed by China. They worry that fostering the new development paradigm means China will slow down its steps of opening-up. We have explained it. President Xi Jinping has, on many occasions, stressed that the "dual circulation" is by no means a closed domestic loop, but a more open system that includes domestic circulation as well as international circulation. Some member states are worried about forced technology transfers in China. In response, we explained that China's revised Administrative License Law and the newly-adopted Foreign Investment Law both clearly stipulate that no administrative department or its staff members shall force any transfer of technology by administrative means.

Third, more than 60 departments that took part in the eighth trade policy review conducted in-depth research on the questions of member states and gained a better understanding of their concerns. It would be helpful for us to further improve our trade policies and practices in the future, to promote trade and investment relationships with other member states of the WTO, and avoid misunderstandings and possible trade conflicts. 

Fourth, the trade policy review of China this time has further strengthened the recognition of WTO members on the values of the organization and the significance of trade policy review. Therefore, it can help boost people's confidence in the WTO when the organization confronts difficulties. Thank you. 

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