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Nation marks 20th anniversary of joining WTO

By LIU ZHIHUA | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-12-10 07:12

French ambassador Laurent Bili samples wine at French pavilioan at fourth China International Import Expo. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

New opportunities

Analysts said China has resolutely expanded all-around opening-up and explored more efficient ways to connect domestic and foreign markets, and share production and resources. The nation's accelerated moves to expand market access for foreign investors and foster a business environment based on market principles, governed by law and reaching international standards, have ushered in a new round of opportunities for businesses worldwide, they added.

Allan Gabor, president of Merck China and managing director of Merck Electronics China, said foreign businesses have profited greatly from the country's economic rise, and about 98 percent of the top 500 companies in the world have invested in the nation.

"China is a strategic market for us, both in terms of its size and growth. Merck has been growing at double-digit rates in China for a couple of years now," Gabor said.

"I think people everywhere on Earth benefited after China opened up and joined the WTO," he added.

Like many other multinational companies, all three of Merck's business sectors-electronics, healthcare, and life sciences-continue to invest in China.

Gabor said the nation is on the right track to transform itself from a manufacturing center to a global innovation powerhouse, and Merck is constantly seeing new breakthroughs in innovation and technology in virtual reality, 5G and many other fields.

While businesses profit from China's efforts to open up, producers and consumers worldwide have also benefited to a wide degree from the nation's complete manufacturing sectors and increased exports.

Achievements vital

The importance of China to global production in most sectors, from precision instruments and industrial machinery, to computers and smartphones, has increased during the past two decades, according to UNCTAD.

Zhou Mi, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said: "China has provided strong support to global trade thanks to growth in its industrial economy since its accession to the WTO. With stable prices of Chinese goods, the demands of global consumers are well satisfied.

"Chinese-made products have won market recognition with their advantages of high quality and low price.

"This not only benefits China with export income, but also encourages more countries to develop an export-oriented economy, which eventually accelerates product innovation through market competition to give the world economy a steady growth impetus driven by innovation."

According to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York staff report released in June 2017, and revised in July 2018, China's entry to the WTO led to a significant fall in variety-adjusted US manufacturing price indexes between 2000 and 2006.

For Chinese components of these indexes, one-third of the beneficial impact resulted from Chinese exporters lowering their prices, while two-thirds arose from the entry of new Chinese exporters.

China's WTO accession also led to other countries exporting to the US lowering their prices, which was partly offset by the exit of these exporters, the report said.

Yu Miaojie, deputy dean of Peking University's National School of Development, said China would remain the world's largest exporter.

"Although labor costs have risen in China, and its comparative advantage in labor-intensive industries is weakening, exports from capital-intensive industries, such as mechanical equipment and electrical devices, are growing and have replaced in importance those that are labor intensive," he said.

Zhang Jianping, head of the Center for Regional Economic Cooperation at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing, said China is becoming increasingly important to the global economy.

The nation has contributed to world economic growth in numerous respects since joining the WTO, including expanding exports to benefit global consumers, and facilitating expansion in developing countries through increased outbound direct foreign investment and international aid, Zhang said.

"As it furthers reforms, opens up and upholds multilateralism, China has built high-quality development platforms for the world economy," he added.

Zhu Tian, professor of economics at the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, said China's "miracle-like" economic growth in past decades was mainly driven by its deepening reforms and opening-up, while joining the WTO was only a landmark event during this process, rather than a cause of rapid economic growth in the country.

"Opening-up brought to China advanced technologies and management practices from developed economies, improving productivity, technology and management, and eventually realizing rapid economic growth in the past decades," Zhu said.

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