Bloomberg News

China Vows to Open Economy More 10 Years After Joining WTO

November 17, 2011

(Updates with Yu comment in second paragraph)

Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) -- China will continue to open its economy and engage “more proactively” in globalization after 10 years in the World Trade Organization, Assistant Commerce Minister Yu Jianhua said.

“As a Chinese saying goes, it takes 10 years to make a good sword,” Yu said in a statement from Beijing today. The Chinese government will keep opening its consumer goods, financial, logistics and medical services markets, he said.

While China’s grown into the world’s second-largest economy during the decade after joining the WTO, it has faced?disputes with trade partners over products including tires, solar cells and X-ray security inspection equipment. The nation’s currency policy has also been criticized, with President Barack Obama saying on Nov. 13 “enough’s enough” on what the U.S. views as a too-slow strengthening in the yuan.

The WTO will discuss the relationship between trade and exchange rates and plans to hold a meeting on the topic in March, Roberto Azevedo, Brazil’s ambassador to the multinational organization, said yesterday.

Asked about the issue, Yu said the WTO traditionally isn’t in charge of exchange-rate issues, which the International Monetary Fund handles.

“Within the WTO there have never been any dispute solution cases specifically about exchange rates,” Yu said. “We will make our views clear” to the organization, he said.

Trade Protectionism

The exchange rate also has no direct linkage with China’s trade surplus, Yu said. Smaller companies in China are facing pressures from the yuan’s appreciation, rising domestic labor and commodities costs and trade protectionism abroad, he said.

The nation’s trade surplus fell to less than 1.4 percent of gross domestic product in the first 10 months of the year from under 3 percent in 2010, Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said in Beijing yesterday.

China joined the WTO in December 11, 2001, capping a 15- year drive to join the rules-based trading system and giving foreign companies from banks to movie studios a wider opening in the world’s most-populous market.

Over the past ten years, China’s exports and imports expanded nearly five-fold and the country has attracted over $700 billion in foreign investment, Yu said. Outbound investment increased to nearly $60 billion in 2010 from less than $1 billion a decade ago, he said.

--Victoria Ruan. Editors: Ken McCallum, Lily Nonomiya

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Victoria Ruan in Beijing at vruan1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ken McCallum at kmccallum4@bloomberg.net


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