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Nation marks 20th anniversary of joining WTO

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

The thematic exhibition commemorating the 20th anniversary of China's accession to WTO during the fourth CIIE in Shanghai on Nov 7, 2021. [Photo by Zhu Xingxin/China Daily]

Global shoppers benefit, domestic market fuels imports growth and opportunities for foreign companies

A glance at imported products on the shelves of even an average-size supermarket in Beijing invariably shows that shoppers have plenty of options.

From food and beverages such as fruit, meat, baby formula and wine, to other daily necessities, including clothing, products from around the world have become commonplace for countless Chinese consumers using bricks-and-mortar shopping venues.

Online, they are even more readily available-just the click of a mouse away.

The variety of global goods flooding into China is not only testimony to the nation's burgeoning domestic market, but also shows, in particular, how deeply the country has become interwoven with worldwide trade.

Gao Feng, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said at an online media briefing on Thursday, "China will unwaveringly further high-level opening-up to share market opportunities with the rest of the world."

The nation would continue to reduce items on the negative list for foreign investment, and strengthen services and protection for foreign enterprises and related projects, Gao said.

With a constantly improving business environment governed by law that is up to international standards and market oriented, China hopes foreign investors will benefit from the country's growth dividends, he added.

Since joining the World Trade Organization, or WTO, in 2001, China has dramatically increased its exports to become the world's undisputed champion in this field.

Analysts said the nation provides global consumers with quality and cheap goods. At the same time, it continuously expands and opens up its domestic market to fuel growth in imports and provide more business opportunities for foreign companies with or without a presence in China.

They added that with its promise to further reforms and opening-up, China will continue to make a great contribution to global economic growth, especially at a time when industrial and supply chains worldwide are experiencing difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tu Xinquan, dean of the China Institute for WTO Studies at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said, "China has benefited from its accession to the WTO, but more important, by joining the multilateral trading system, it has enhanced the operational efficiency of the world economy and improved the use of global resources, making a huge contribution to international economic growth."

China's accession to the WTO enabled the nation to incorporate its own resources, including labor, land and natural assets, to the global economy at a much deeper level and on a much larger scale, accelerating the nation's economic growth, Tu said.

Thanks to China joining the international institution, developed economies could reallocate and match their capital resources with labor and China's other resources to reduce product costs and enhance productivity, he added.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the WTO, said China has successfully positioned itself at the core of numerous global value chains. These production and trade networks have not only provided a lifeline for many countries during the pandemic, they have also increased the quantity, quality and variety of goods available worldwide, she added.

Okonjo-Iweala made the remarks via video link during a high-level session marking the 20th anniversary of China's accession to the WTO, held on the sidelines of the fourth China International Import Expo and Hongqiao International Economic Forum last month in Shanghai.

In November 2001, after 15 years of negotiations, the WTO formally approved China's entry as its 143rd member, which took effect a month later, making the WTO a truly international trade organization.

During the past two decades, China, which has different levels of development between regions, has made vigorous efforts to align itself with WTO rules, abide by them, and also to open its market.

It cut its overall tariff rate from 15.3 percent to 7.4 percent during this period, lower than the 9.8 percent accession commitment. The current tariff level is lower than those of all developing members of the WTO and close to those of developed members of the organization, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

The world's sixth-largest economy when it joined the WTO, China has risen to become the second-largest. It is also a major trade partner with more than 120 countries and regions, with total trade in goods soaring to $4.65 trillion last year, up from $509.8 billion in 2001, official customs data show.

The nation has opened some 120 subsectors in the services industry, compared with its accession promise to open 100, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

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