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The WTO's ruling should not be viewed as 'victory' or 'defeat' | Updated: 2019-04-21 10:31
Wheat growing on a farm in Huai'an, Jiangsu province. [Photo/IC]

A threat to the viability of the current WTO dispute settlement system is the unilateralism and protectionism of the United States. Specifically, this mechanism is in crisis because the United States has prevented the appointment of new judges to the appellate body. Experts have warned that if the appellate body were to shut down because of a lack of judges, global trade governance will be put back 20 years.

Of course the WTO also needs to continually reforming itself so that it can keep up with the times, and many countries have put forward relevant suggestions. For instance, the European Union has released a paper putting forth ideas for a comprehensive modernization of the WTO, and the United States, Europe, and Japan have together submitted a their own proposed reforms. And in November last year, China announced that it supported necessary reforms of the WTO and raised five proposals that aim to firmly uphold the rules-based multilateral trading system, resist protectionism, and let the WTO play a bigger role in world trade.

The settlement of the dispute over agricultural products between China and the United States is nothing out of the ordinary – it is a normal part of China's engagement with the rules-based trading system. As Mr Pascal Lamy, a former WTO director general put it, "China has delivered an 'A-plus performance' since its WTO accession," and no WTO member has been a perfect performer when it comes to WTO rules as each country has its own interpretation of the rules.

China will regard every dispute settlement within the WTO framework as an opportunity to continuously adjust and improve its trade practices. Through the process, China will consult extensively with other WTO members in order to promote reforms of the WTO that enhance the organization's authority and effectiveness so that it can better safeguard free trade and the multilateral trading system.

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