Reform should facilitate WTO in maintaining fair trade
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.