Date
15 December 2018
The WTO must not be used to suit particular countries’ needs, Beijing says. Photo: Reuters
The WTO must not be used to suit particular countries’ needs, Beijing says. Photo: Reuters

China says will support ‘real’ WTO reform, not any trap

China plans to propose reforms of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Beijing’s envoy to the trade body said, while warning other nations against seeing reform as a chance to put the Asian giant in a straitjacket.

“We will also put forward China’s WTO reform proposal soon,” Zhang Xiangchen, China’s ambassador to the WTO, said during a WTO conference in Paris on Friday, Reuters reports.

According to a copy of his remarks provided to the news agency, Zhang said he had listened carefully and humbly to comments and complaints about China at the Paris conference.

“We will study them carefully, and to see if some of them could be taken into account in the process of domestic institutional reform,” he said.

China is willing to discuss the root causes of problems such as excess capacity but it will not have views forced upon it, Zhang said.

The problem needs to be correctly diagnosed before a rush to make prescriptions, the envoy said.

The WTO needs reform because it is not keeping up with changes in business, and because it is losing the battle against unilateralism and protectionism, and had not made any meaningful cut in rich countries’ agricultural subsidies, Zhang said.

The WTO reform should liberalize trade and facilitate investment, but step-by-step and without reinventing the wheel or “moonshot targets”, he said.

And the WTO must not be used to suit particular countries’ needs, he added.

“Excuse me for being a bit blunt here, but if someone wishes, in the name of reform, put China in a tailor-made straitjacket of trade rules to constrain China’s development, I think they will be very much disappointed,” Zhang said.

“If it is a real reform, we’ll go ahead with it, if it is a trap, it’s best for all of us to stay away from it.”

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RC

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