China promotes steady growth of international trade
Updated: 2011-12-06 15:06
BEIJING - When China joined the World Trade Organization ten years ago, it marked the beginning of a new era in which China would become one of the world's most important economic powers.
During the past decade, China has made great economic and social progress -- it has become the world's biggest exporter and the world's second-largest economy, as well as a top destination for foreign investors.
WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said during his visit to China in October that China has delivered an "A-plus performance" since its WTO accession.
As a country committed to promoting the steady growth of international trade, a growing China has brought tangible benefits to the world.
China's share of the global economy rose to 9.3 percent last year from less than 4 percent a decade ago. Its $586-billion stimulus package unveiled in 2008 boosted domestic demand and helped to pull the world economy out of a recession.
Over the past ten years, Chinese enterprises operating overseas employed nearly 800,000 people locally and paid over $10 billion in taxes every year, according to official data.
China has strictly fulfilled its WTO commitments by expanding market access and increasing transparency. China's average tariff level has been lowered from over 15 percent to less than 10 percent. The country has opened more than 100 service trade sectors and modified thousands of laws and regulations to ensure they are in line with WTO rules.
Meanwhile, global purchasers and consumers have saved a great deal of money by buying "made-in-China" goods.
Over the past decade, American consumers saved more than $600 billion in spending, thanks to imported goods from China. European families save 300 euros every year in the same way, according to Premier Wen Jiabao.
The relocation of assembly operations from developed nations to labor-abundant China has enabled those countries to focus more on emerging industries, which are expected to lead the world's future growth and bolster developed countries' status as economic powerhouses.
Seemingly large trade surplus
China has been a target of critics for its large trade surplus, despite its contributions to the world economy. However, the size of China's trade surplus can be partially attributed to statistical methods.
In the age of globalization, product components manufactured by various countries may be sent to another nation for assembly. The same country may very well export the finished goods to an entirely different country.
However, the rules of origin, which are widely used today to determine a product's country of origin for purposes of international trade, leave little room for processing trade and transshipment.
The use of rules of origin to analyze processing trade tends to distort the true picture and produce erroneous results. Some experts have said that if China-US trade figures are analyzed using a method other than the rules of origin, China's trade surplus with the US would drop by at least 40 percent.
Current statistical methods must be adjusted to better reflect international trade, reduce protectionism and improve the global trade environment, according to Yu Jianhua, assistant minister of commerce.
China has learned that it has to direct its economy away from exports and state-directed investment and move toward consumer-led growth. Chinese leaders have stated that the country will focus more on increasing imports while maintaining stable export levels.
Over the past ten years, the country has imported an annual average of $750 billion in goods and created more than 14 million jobs for its trading partners, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.
It is estimated that the nation's imports will amount to $8 trillion over the next five years. Retail sales will likely to reach 31 trillion yuan ($4.89 trillion), creating opportunities for overseas companies.
Meanwhile, the country plans to continue lowering its import threshold despite rising protectionism amid global economic headwinds.
President Hu Jintao announced at the G20 Summit last month that China will give zero-tariff treatment to 97 percent of tariffed exports from less-developed countries with diplomatic ties to China.
With the implementation of policies aimed to boost consumption and imports, China will provide a greater impetus for the development of global economics and trade, Yu said.
Government officials have said that China does not intentionally seek a trade surplus and have called on developed countries to relax restrictions on high-tech exports to China.
"The key is not to limit imports from China, but to loosen export controls against China and boost high-tech exports to China," Commerce Minister Chen said.