Re­form should fa­cil­i­tate WTO in main­tain­ing fair trade

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - 8 Comment Editorial • Opinion -

If there is con­sen­sus on whether World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion should be re­formed, how the world body should be re­formed is at is­sue. But what­ever a par­tic­u­lar coun­try pur­sues with this re­form, one prin­ci­ple needs to be main­tained: The mul­ti­lat­eral trade regime must be pro­tected and the role it plays in fa­cil­i­tat­ing global free trade should never be un­der­mined.

The pro­pos­als the Min­istry of Com­merce put for­ward on the week­end are so meant.

One of the pro­pos­als re­quires that the re­form should tackle the most ur­gent prob­lems the WTO faces: uni­lat­er­al­ism and pro­tec­tion­ism, the prac­tices of which have be­come stum­bling blocks pre­vent­ing the rel­e­vant WTO mech­a­nisms from play­ing their roles.

Rather than be­ing made a tool of any coun­try, the WTO needs to make its rules fair. It is ob­vi­ously un­fair for some de­vel­oped coun­tries to sub­si­dize their agri­cul­ture, the prac­tice of which has long dis­torted the global trade in agri­cul­tural prod­ucts in fa­vor of these coun­tries. In anti-dump­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions, the third coun­try as sub­sti­tute is also un­fair and has se­ri­ously dis­torted the or­der of world trade.

China also main­tains that the WTO rules need to make sure that the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries get the spe­cial and dif­fer­en­ti­ated treat­ment they de­serve for their de­vel­op­ment. The pro­pos­als say that the re­form should re­quire some WTO mem­bers to scrap their dis­crim­i­na­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tions against im­ports and in­vest­ment in the name of na­tional se­cu­rity.

China, of course, hopes that the WTO re­form will pro­tect its own le­git­i­mate in­ter­ests but not at the cost of those of other coun­tries. What China wants is a global trade en­vi­ron­ment where trade can be car­ried out for all coun­tries in a fair man­ner.

But there are those coun­tries that want to turn the WTO into their own in­stru­ment so that the world trade body’s rules are tilted in their fa­vor or want to use it to “put China in a tai­lor-made straight­jacket of trade rules”.

Main­tain­ing fair play is what the WTO is sup­posed to do. If any re­form is meant to turn the world body into a tool to con­tain the de­vel­op­ment of a par­tic­u­lar coun­try or fa­cil­i­tate the trade of a par­tic­u­lar coun­try at the cost of other coun­tries, such re­form will go nowhere.

The re­form should ce­ment the au­thor­i­ta­tive­ness of the world trade body and con­sol­i­date its lead­er­ship in the mul­ti­lat­eral trad­ing sys­tem. Any re­form with the in­ten­tion of seek­ing uni­lat­eral gains or other ul­te­rior mo­tives will do oth­er­wise.

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