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

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Phoenix TV:

As we know, the eighth trade policy review has coincided with the 20th anniversary of China's entry into the WTO. Some members hold that China has not fully fulfilled its WTO commitments up to now. What does China think of such view? Thank you. 

Wang Shouwen:

This year marks the 20th anniversary of China's entry into the WTO. At the time of its accession, there were a protocol of accession, accompanying a working party report, stipulating China's commitments after its accession and the timetable for fulfilling the obligations. If you take the schedule for your reference, you will find that we have fully fulfilled our commitments stipulated by the WTO and the promises we made. Moreover, several directors-general of the WTO and most of its members have fully affirmed and recognized this. I will show you some examples. 

First, in terms of adapting to WTO rules, we need to revise laws, regulations, and policies to conform with WTO rules after China entered into the WTO. The Chinese central government repealed more than 2,000 pieces of laws, regulations, and departmental rules, and local governments removed more than 190,000 local laws and regulations. After China's accession into the WTO, we brought our laws, regulations, and policy framework fully into line with WTO rules according to the timetable. In a given period of time after China's accession into the WTO, we have worked to ensure China's legal and policy systems consistent with WTO rules. Meanwhile, we also ensured that the newly enacted policies and laws and regulations conform and continue to conform with WTO rules. 

Second, in terms of opening the market, we promised to reduce goods tariffs to below 9.8%. At the beginning of China's accession to the WTO, the figure was 15.3%. We have fully delivered on this commitment. China's general tariff is now only 7.4%, lower than the average ofdeveloping country members and approaching the levels of developed country members. China has also widely opened its market in the services industry. The Protocol of Accession and the Working Party Report stipulated that 100 sub-sectors in nine categories needed to be opened by 2007. Now, China has opened nearly 120 sub-sectors, exceeding our commitments.

Third, in terms of complying with laws and regulations, our laws, regulations, and policies should conform with WTO rules, and we have also done quite well in this regard. Explicitly speaking, we have set up intellectual property courts in some places and even particular judicial organs of intellectual property in some provinces to enhance intellectual property protection. We have done well in ensuring laws and regulations of intellectual property conform with WTO rules. In addition, more efforts have been made in the enforcement, as well as in providing administrative and judicial protections. To improve the transparency, we have timely notified the WTO of the adjustment and implementation of China's legislation, as well as of laws and regulations. The number of notifications has exceeded 1,000. Among them, the notification of subsidy policies is very difficult to prepare. WTO member countries need to submit to the organization the amount of subsidy the government gives to its enterprises and industries, such practice was deemed by many WTO members, especially developing country members, as the most challenging task. The Chinese government has overcome many difficulties and made timely notifications. This July, China notified the WTO of subsidy policies between 2019 and 2020, setting an excellent example for other WTO members. 

China had also honored previous rulings of specific cases before the WTO dispute settlement mechanism was formed. We executed all those rulings no matter whether they were favorable for China or not. No retaliation from complaining members has been incurred due to China's nonacceptance of WTO rulings. Based on the aspects mentioned above, we can see that China has fully and effectively fulfilled its WTO commitments. 

As I just mentioned, some members also raised other concerns and expectations that may go beyond WTO rules. It is improper to judge that China has not fulfilled its commitments based on rules beyond WTO provisions. Specifically, some regulations of intellectual property in the WTO Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) are different from those in some free trade agreements. Therefore, it is inappropriate to ask China comply with intellectual property provisions of some high-standard free trade agreements within the framework of the WTO. 

Generally speaking, China has done an excellent job fulfilling its WTO commitments, which is not only China's view but also the view of WTO members and several directors-general. Thank you. 

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