China's WTO Updates
Minister: China Scores "Best" Performance in Foreign Trade since Joining WTO

China's trade minister Shi Guangsheng used the word "best" two times Sunday when describing the first year of China's membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

China's foreign trade volume and overseas investment in China achieved its "best" scores in years against the background of a slowing world economy, and as a new member of the WTO, China is a "best" player of the multilateral trade body, Shi, minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (MOFTEC), said in an interview on the eve of the one year anniversary of China's WTO entry.

China's foreign trade volume is expected to top 600 billion US dollars this year, edging the country from the sixth position to the fifth in the world trade chart. Foreign trade in the first 10 months reached 500.2 billion dollars, up 19.7 percent from the same period last year.

Shi predicted that China's overseas investment will surpass 50 billion dollars this year, making China the largest absorber of direct overseas investment across the world. Overseas investment that arrived in the first 10 months grew more than 20 percent.

The minister attributed the growth of trade volume and overseas investment to a better-than-expected world economy and China's robust economic growth. China's entry into the WTO played a definite role, he added.

China's WTO membership enabled it to better handle trade disputes and to gain better access to the world market. Shi said the number of lawsuits against China, including anti-dumping cases, anti-subsidy cases and safeguard measures, dropped 20 percent from January to October from the same period last year. The lawsuits added up to 67 last year.

WTO membership helped accelerate the country's move toward a market economy. A large number of laws were proclaimed invalid or revised and new laws were made.

Membership also made economic officials and entrepreneurs better prepared for world competition, which will benefit China over a long period of time, Shi said.

Shi stressed that some industrial sectors that had been the subject of concern, such as automobile and the service industries, have survived the challenges from foreign competitors. There was also no flooding of foreign imports.

"I can tell you for sure that these industries were not struck down," he said. "On the contrary, the automobile industry has had major development, and Chinese people now enjoy better service since foreign competitors came in. China is still enjoying a surplus trade balance as well."

China's performance as a new WTO member was "great", Shi said. China fulfilled its commitments and observed the rules. WTO members reviewed 17 transitional trade policies of China according to its protocol of entry, and have passed 16, with the remaining one to be passed very soon.

"We have won more applause than criticism, and China as a responsible new member has won respect from other WTO members," Shi said.

Shi forecast more growth for China's foreign trade and overseas investment next year. He said although there are many uncertainties in the world economy, it is very possible to have a lower-level growth.

China's specific advantage of labor-intensive exports is mainly daily-use consumer goods, which should enjoy a market around the world, he said.

China's absorption of overseas investment will grow as well, he said. China is now the safest investment destination with high returns. China's lower cost of labor and its production level are attractive to many investors, as has been proved by the fact that the overseas investment's contractual volume surged 30 percent so far this year.

(Xinhua News Agency December 9, 2002)


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