Employees make suits at a factory in Jining, China (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

China Defends Developing Economy Status at WTO Amid Reform Push

(Bloomberg) -- China said it won’t allow reform of the World Trade Organization to include stripping it of its status as a developing nation, a move that would challenge its state-led development model.

  • Speaking in Beijing, Deputy Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said WTO reform should address developing nations’ interests and defend the multilateral trading system. Unilateralism threatens the WTO’s authority, and the dispute with the U.S. over appointments to the WTO’s appellate body needs to be addressed urgently

Key Insights

  • While other nations argue that China has abused its role in the WTO by using its status as a developing nation to allow it to continue state subsidies for industry, officials in Beijing defended that as accurately reflecting lagging per capita income, education levels and healthcare standards

Key Comments

  • The WTO faces survival problems as one member keeps blocking new appellate body nominees, abusing national security to impose tariffs and takes unilateral actions citing domestic laws, Wang said, alluding to the U.S. without naming it
  • WTO reforms should ensure the special and differentiated treatment for developing members, Wang said
  • Developing member status shouldn’t be measured only through the economic size, Wang said, adding that "China won’t allow any member to scrap the special and differentiated treatment it is entitled to as a developing nation"
  • WTO reforms should respect diversified development models, Wang said. China opposes adding any special rules on state-owned enterprises in the name of reforming the trade body, he said
  • WTO reforms should address complaints over developed economies’ agricultural subsidies, and rectify the abuse of trade remedy measures, especially using the "surrogate country" approach in anti-dumping probes, Wang said

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