|Remarks by Ambassador MA Zhaoxu at the High-Level Symposium "Strengthening Multilateralism and Multilateral Trading System in the Age of Globalization"|
Welcome to the High-Level Symposium co-hosted by the Chinese Mission and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).
At present, world economy continues to maintain the momentum of recovery, but its foundation is not solid. Meanwhile, unilateralism, isolationism and trade protectionism are on the rise, dealing a heavy blow to multilateralism and multilateral trading system, while adding to the instabilities and uncertainties of global economy.
Trade is an important tool for countries to reduce poverty and realize development. As a crucial engine of world economic growth, trade has a vital role to play in economic globalization and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). From 1990 to 2016, the share of trade in the world Gross National Product (GNP) increased significantly from 17% to 28%, which gave a strong boost to world economic development, lifted billions of peoples out of poverty, and promoted economic, social and cultural exchanges and integration among countries.
To safeguard a rules-based, universal, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non- discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization (WTO) is an earnest practice to support multilateralism and an important guarantee for global economic growth.
The international community should jointly support multilateralism, uphold the multilateral trading system and its rules, and actively build an open world economy. We need to expeditiously push for substantive progress in the Doha Round of negotiations and add new momentum to world economic growth.
In the spirit of win-win cooperation and common development, we should properly handle trade frictions through dialogue and consultation, take concrete actions to oppose all forms of unilateralism and trade protectionism, and firmly advocate and support free trade. Parties need to uphold the basic principles of the WTO, which is open, transparent, inclusive, non-discriminatory and rules-based trade, make joint efforts to give a bigger role to the WTO, and actively build an open world economy, so that all countries can share in the opportunities and benefits of openness and realize shared prosperity and common development.
We need to improve trade finance and help countries in special situations integrate into the multilateral trading system. Trade finance remains a major constraint for African countries and the least developed countries to participate in international trade. We should strengthen our support in trade finance for developing countries and improve market access conditions for countries in special situations, so that these countries and their peoples could benefit from economic globalization.
China has always been actively promoting multilateralism and firmly upholding the multilateral trading system and its rules. Since its accession to the WTO in 2001, China has honored its commitments across the board, made all its WTO concessions and opened its door wider. In terms of trade in goods, China has fulfilled all its tariff reduction commitments, lowering its overall tariff level from 15.3% to 9.8%. In recent years, China has taken the initiative to further cut the import duty on some commodities. As regards trade in services, China has opened up nearly 120 service sectors categorized by the WTO, exceeding the 100 sectors promised at its accession and approaching the average levels of developed countries.
China has played a constructive role in reaching the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), in concluding the negotiations to expand the coverage of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and in eliminating agricultural export subsidies. In keeping with the times, China has actively promoted the WTO to discuss important agendas relating to emerging industries, and contributed Chinese proposals and Chinese wisdom to new topics such as investment facilitation and E-commerce.
As an active response to the WTO's Aid for Trade initiative, China has helped to the best of its abilities other developing countries, especially the least developed countries (LDCs), build infrastructure, train professionals, raise productivity and promote trade facilitation. China now grants zero tariff treatment on 97% tax items to 35 least developed countries. We have also financed and established China's Least-Developed Countries and Accessions Programme (the "China Programme") and help 6 LDCs successfully accede to the WTO. At the end of 2017, China made a donation to the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF), in an effort to help developing countries implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
According to the statistics from the IMF and the UN, since the international financial crisis in 2008, China has contributed over 30% of global growth every year on average. In 2017, China contributed around 34% of global growth and accounted for 15% of the world economic aggregate. In the coming five years, China is expected to import eight trillion US dollars of goods, attract 600 billion US dollars of foreign investment and make 750 billion US dollars of outbound investment.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up. Over the last four decades, China has been committed to supporting multilateralism and actively upholding the multilateral trading system and its rules. At the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference, His Excellency President Xi Jinping pointed out that opening-up was key to China's economic growth over the past 40 years, and in the same vein, high-quality development of China's economy in the future can only be achieved with greater openness. China will adopt the following major measures to pursue further opening:
First, we will significantly broaden market access. On services, financial services in particular, we are accelerating the opening-up of the insurance industry, and easing restrictions on the establishment of foreign financial institutions in China. On manufacturing, we will ease as soon as possible foreign equity restrictions in these industries, automobiles in particular.
Second, we will create a more attractive investment environment. We will enhance alignment with international economic and trading rules, increase transparency, strengthen property rights protection, uphold the rule of law, encourage competition and oppose monopoly.
Third, we will strengthen protection of intellectual property rights (IPR). We encourage normal technological exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and foreign enterprises, and protect the lawful IPR owned by foreign enterprises in China. At the same time, we hope foreign governments will also improve protection of Chinese IPR.
Fourth, we will take the initiative to expand imports. China does not seek trade surplus; we have a genuine desire to increase imports and achieve greater balance of international payments under the current account. We hope developed countries will stop imposing restrictions on normal and reasonable trade of high-tech products and relax export controls on such trade with China.
Five years ago, President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which is a concrete result of multilateralism. Since then, more than 80 countries and international organizations have signed cooperation agreements with China. The BRI is China's idea, but its opportunities and outcomes are going to benefit the world. As the BRI is a new initiative, we are ready to work with all countries in the world to make the BRI the broadest platform for international cooperation, in keeping with the trend of economic globalization and to the greater benefit of all our peoples.
We are ready to work together with all parties to dedicate ourselves to openness and win-win outcomes, strengthen multilateralism and multilateral trading system, and keep striving for a community with a shared future for mankind.
It is the shared aspiration of the whole world to support multilateralism and uphold multilateral trading system and its rules. Therefore, China proposes to establish a "Group of Friends of Multilateralism and Free Trade", to make suggestions, enhance coordination and build consensus at the UN platforms to better support multilateralism, strengthen multilateral trading system and promote a sustainable and healthy world economy, so that all countries, particularly developing countries will benefit from economic globalization.