WTO must stand firm against closed trade systems

Updated: 2013-12-06 20:11

By Li Yang (chinadaily.com.cn)

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Members of the World Trade Organization have come to the last mile before reaching their “early harvest” agreement. All relevant parties now must come together to make a breakthrough in the multilateral talks, says an article in the People’s Daily. (Excerpts below)

The Ninth Ministerial Conference of WTO in Bali, Indonesia, is now the focus of international media, and the multilateral trading system is at a crossroads. If it does not advance, it will go back. The Doha Round of negotiations has been on a bumpy road since it was launched in 2001. No concrete progress has been made. If this conference yields nothing, the healthy development of WTO, especially the future of the negotiations, will be damaged.

The causes are complicated. To begin with, the ongoing negotiations have already gone beyond international trade and have encroached on domestic political and economic policies. Second, the participants have different interests. Third, the United States and other participants have changed their strategies to tilt the delicate balance.

No matter how complicated the situation, a guiding principle for future negotiations is that all parties should fight against trade protectionism and develop an open-model world economy. The trade talks should not give up halfway, because they remain the best way to resist trade protectionism and provide huge impetus for global growth, recovery and development.

Currently, some bilateral, regional and global free trade talks are overlapping with each other. By early 2012, the WTO had sparked 511 regional trade arrangements, of which 319 took effect.

The multilateral system based on the WTO is the foundation for liberalization and convenience of trade, and cannot be replaced by regional trading arrangements. Nations should uphold the principles of inclusiveness and transparency in building regional free trade areas. Trade negotiations cannot be closed.

FTAs around the world must be open and conducive to the integration of international trade.

Meanwhile, some developed countries should not only consider their own strategic interests, nor should they place their rules above those of other nations.

The emerging economies should be allowed to carry more weight in international trade to ensure the fairness of the world trade order.

As a responsible power, China is a firm supporter of and contributor to the multilateral trading system. China has proposed that confidence, promise and change are the keys to overcoming difficulties. It gives tariff-free treatment to less developed nations and has become the largest export market for them during the past five years.