Business / Economy

Nation standing by multilateral system for trade

By Zhu Zhe in Geneva (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-11 07:01

Regional pacts merely supplements, WTO deputy director-general says

China should stand firm in pushing the Doha round of talks with other emerging economies while the multilateral trade system is challenged by the growing regional free trade movement, China's ambassador to the World Trade Organization has said.

WTO members are now busy negotiating how future talks should be carried out after a trade facilitation agreement was reached last December on the island of Bali in Indonesia, and a work schedule is expected by the end of the year, Yu Jianhua told a group of Chinese reporters.

China believes future talks should differentiate policies for developing countries and developed countries, he said.

Yi Xiaozhun, WTO's deputy director-general, told reporters that members also are discussing the implementation timetable of the Bali Package, which is considered a breakthrough in the WTO's marathon trade-liberalization negotiations. "The Bali Package offers us confidence in the Doha talks, and members are serious in pushing it forward," he said.

The Doha round, launched in 2001 to boost the free flow of goods and help poor nations overcome barriers to global trade, failed to achieve a pact, and there is growing skepticism worldwide about an eventual deal. Many countries have since turned to regional free-trade talks, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a United States-led initiative to create a free-trade zone, and Europe's proposed trade accord with the US, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. China also is participating in some free-trade zone talks with neighboring countries such as Japan and South Korea.

Yu acknowledged there is a growing passion for regional free-trade agreements of different size and scale, and they are threatening the multilateral trade system. "The multilateral talks are lacking oxygen, while the regional talks have too much of it," he said.

Yu said a growing number of emerging economies in the WTO are challenging the traditional authority of Western countries, because the WTO requires that any agreement should receive universal support.

Song Hong, a researcher at the Beijing-based Institute of World Economics and Politics, said developed countries are having an uneasy time in adjusting to a changing world trade order.

Nation standing by multilateral system for trade

Nation standing by multilateral system for trade

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