SIEM REAP, Cambodia — China is committed to safeguarding a multilateral trade system since the system gave enormous benefits to the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Vice-Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen said on March 20.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the fifth China Round Table on World Trade Organization (WTO) Accession, Wang said the world is faced with anti-globalization sentiment, populism and growing protectionist forces.
He added that in the context of sluggish global trade growth and inward-looking trade policies by some major players, WTO members should firmly stick to multilateralism and uphold the primacy of the WTO in trade liberalization.
“As WTO members, we must continue to reiterate our strong commitment to the multilateral trading system,” he said at the ceremony which was attended by Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and LDCs and WTO representatives.
“China is committed to safeguarding a multilateral trading system that is open, transparent, inclusive and beneficial to all,” he said.
Wang said evidences have shown that LDCs have benefited from the multilateral trading system in their economic and trade development.
“Multilateral trading system, as embodied by the WTO, plays an important role in poverty alleviation, trade growth and economic development of the LDCs,” he said.
There are currently 48 LDCs on the United Nations list, 36 of which to date have become WTO members.
According to Wang, since the establishment of the WTO in 1995, nine LDCs have joined the organization in accordance with Article XII of WTO Agreement.
From 1995 to 2015, the export of LDC WTO members increased from $15.2 billion to $139.3 billion with an annual growth rate of 11.7 percent, he said, adding that over the same period, the GDP of LDC WTO members rose from $87.5 billion to $655.2 billion, with an annual growth rate of 10.6 percent.
“Nonetheless, there is still a long way to go for the LDCs to better integrate into the multilateral trading system,” he said.
The LDCs represented more than one fifth of the WTO membership but only took up less than 1 percent of global trade, he said.
“As a close friend of the LDCs, China has made every effort within its capacity to support the LDCs’ development,” he said.
On the trade front, China has provided duty-free treatment for 97 percent of the tariff lines originating from 35 LDCs, he said, adding that China has been the world’s largest market for LDCs’ products over the last eight years.
Meanwhile, Chinese outward investments to the LDCs are booming, expecting an increase to 12 billion dollars by 2030, he added.
More importantly, China has put forward the Belt and Road Initiative and set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as well as the Silk Road Fund about three years ago.
“Through these efforts, China has been providing developing countries, especially the LDCs, with new driving forces such as improved connectivity in infrastructure for their economic development,” Wang said.