Senior executives and scholars across the world believe that China has done a fairly good job in fulfilling its World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments in the past three years, according to a survey conducted by Andrew Stoler, a former deputy director-general of the WTO.
However, inconsistent laws and practices at different level of government and intellectual property right (IPR) protection remain top concerns.
About 70 percent of 119 survey respondents think that China is taking its WTO pledges seriously and agree that barriers in most sectors are coming down quickly. Only 2.5 percent hold a different opinion.
A majority of them, roughly accounting for 90 percent, believe China's efforts to honor its WTO commitments to date has had a positive impact on foreign business operations in China.
About 80 percent agree that China has so far basically kept pace with its WTO commitments with respect to the banking sector.
The survey shows that confidence has replaced early concerns and worries among foreign investors over China's process of opening-up under the WTO.
"China has well stood by its WTO promises since it became a member in late 2001," said Fan Ying, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing.
"The country opened some of its sectors such as tourism and trading ahead of the deadline," she said. "And a number of non-tariff barriers were dismantled to facilitate goods inflows."
The survey questions were sent to 164 business representatives and researchers in China, Australia, Europe and North America who are believed to have a good knowledge of China's implementation of WTO commitments.
Stoler is now executive director of the Institute for International Business, Economics and Law of the University of Adelaide in Australia, and he carried out the survey for the Shanghai WTO Affairs Consultation Center.
The survey also revealed that China needs further improvement in some fields. More than half of the respondents strongly support the assertion that inconsistent laws, regulations and practices at different levels of government continue to be a major impediment to foreign businesses operating in China.
The IPR question still touches a nerve with those answering the survey, with some saying the IPR protection situation in China is getting worse.
However, Teng Fei, a senior researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council, has a different view.
"You cannot expect everything to turn perfect overnight," said Teng. "Given its size and the development level, China deserves a high score in the fight against IPR violations."
Opinion is split over the issue of whether China should be accorded market economy status (MES) in handling anti-dumping cases.
A total of 42.5 percent of the surveyed support MES for the country, 30 percent oppose such treatment, 17.5 percent go either way and the rest have no opinion.
China made a compromise when it entered the WTO, allowing other members to treat it as a non-market economy in anti-dumping cases until 2016. The concession weakens the country's ability to protect its industries.
(China Daily December 9, 2004)