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

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Shenzhen Satellite TV:

When China joined the WTO, its global share of GDP was only 4%, and its per capita GDP was only 8,700 yuan. At present, China accounts for 17.4% of global GDP and its per capita GDP has reached 72,000 yuan. Some members hold the view that, in the context of its growing comprehensive national strength, China should give up the special and differential treatment enjoyed by developing members in the WTO. What is China's view on this? Thank you.

Wang Shouwen:

Thank you for your question. Under the strong and correct leadership of the CPC, the Chinese government has led the people of the whole country to adhere to the basic national policy of reform and opening-up, give full play to institutional advantages, and follow the general global trends. After decades of hard work and unremitting efforts, our economic and social development has indeed made considerable progress, and our comprehensive national strength is also increasing. However, we must also be aware that China still faces the serious problem of unbalanced and inadequate development, and the task of its own development remains daunting. According to the report of the 19th National Congress of the CPC, China's international status as the world's largest developing country remains unchanged. China's international status as a developing country has not changed.

You mentioned the issue of special and differential treatment. There are special provisions in the WTO, whereby developing members enjoy special and differential treatment in terms of market opening and compliance with rules. Specific rights and obligations have to be decided through negotiations. According to the statistics of the WTO Secretariat, there are 155 provisions on special and differential treatment in the WTO agreement, covering six areas: increasing trade opportunities, safeguarding the interests of members, maintaining policy space, transitional time-periods, technical assistance and special flexibility for the least developed countries (LDCs). For example, one agreement stipulates that developed members need to implement immediately, but developing members can do so within five years. Developing members enjoy such transitional periods, which is special and differential treatment.

Some members think that China should give up its special and differential treatment. I would like to share with you some information. When China joined the WTO, we adhered to the principle of seeking truth from facts and undertook obligations within our capabilities in accordance with the principle of balancing rights and obligations. We actually enjoyed less special and differential treatment than other developing members. 

Since its accession to the WTO, China has never used special and differential treatment as a "shield" to impede the progress of the negotiations. In fact, China's position and practices have made important contributions to some WTO negotiations. For example, the WTO has reached the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). There are some class C measures in the agreement, which are measures that can only be implemented after developing members receive financial support from developed members. China insists on completing these by itself and does not need financial support from others. That is, we have not asked for special and differential treatment. There are also some class B measures, which can only be implemented after a transitional period. Developing countries should implement them after a transitional period, while developed countries need to implement them immediately. China is a developing country, but we have few class B measures. Such efforts have contributed to the conclusion and implementation of the agreement. As another example, in the negotiations on the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), as a developing country, we demanded terms and made our offers according to the balance of rights and obligations. China contributed significantly to the success of the expansion negotiations. Therefore, in the agreements reached after China's accession to the WTO, we have enjoyed less special and differential treatment. 

In future negotiations, as a responsible major country and the largest developing country, we will continue to adhere to the balance of rights and obligations, deal with special and differential treatment in a pragmatic manner according to our own level and ability of economic development, promote WTO reform, safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries and defend the multilateral trading system. Thank you.

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