22:50 GMT05 March 2021
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    China intends to resolutely defend the WTO's principles, promote the creation of an open world economy and resist protectionism. That's according to country's Minister of Commerce, Zhong Shan, in a statement made in an article published on Monday by the People's Daily newspaper.

    At the same time, Axios, a US news website, reported on the plans of the Trump administration to introduce a bill that would allow Washington to ignore fundamental WTO rules and unilaterally raise tariffs against other countries.

    The Chinese minister called the WTO the center of the multilateral trading system and the very system itself is the cornerstone of international trade, a pillar to its healthy development. He stressed that China will continue to be an active participant in the multilateral trade mechanism, will support it and contribute to its strengthening.

    READ MORE: China's Commerce Ministry: US Tariffs to Hit Global Supply Chains

    China has faced attempts by the US to destroy this system. Observers note that the adoption of such a bill by Congress would allow the US to unilaterally ignore the basic principles of the WTO. This is actually equivalent to America's withdrawal from the organization. The conflict between the number two and number one world economies is obvious. And it can't be excluded that it will only worsen especially if the US will secure the exclusive right to unilaterally interpret and arbitrarily implement the WTO rules.

    China has successfully integrated into the WTO and managed to receive significant benefits from this. But in order to adapt to the WTO standards, China had to make difficult structural reforms and significant material costs that led to large industrial unemployment in the 90's.

    Now it turns out that the system, into which China has so successfully integrated, which not so many growing economies are able to do, does not satisfy the West. First of all, the US, because they don't feel as the sole beneficiary of this system.

    China's concern over the devastating consequences of US protectionism is understandable because it benefits from free trade, claims Alexander Lomanov, an expert at the Institute of Oriental Studies who spoke to Sputnik:

    "This is a classic example of how a change of the world leader is taking place. The US feels that the norms of free trade do not correspond to its interests, do not bring it the benefits that it had before. Therefore, the US is begining to elude this system. China has become the number two world economy, which is highly sensitive to foreign trade, to the opportunity to receive technology, to buy advanced products and raw materials, and to being able to sell their products freely and without restrictions. China is becoming the main beneficiary of this system. Therefore, for China, maintaining the WTO is an important task, it's a matter of ensuring its own development and a matter of preserving the leadership that it already has, just like guaranteeing access to the next stage of development in turning into a global economic power. These are the plans that were laid out at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last year."

    To facilitate the liberalization of international trade, China, starting July 1st, has significantly reduced import duties on 1,400 consumer goods, as well as cars and their components. The levies on passenger cars have been reduced from 25 percent to 15 percent. Import duties on auto parts will decrease even more significantly — from 25 to 6 percent. Tariffs on consumer goods will drop to 6.9 percent.

    READ MORE: EU Ready to Discuss Lower Car Tariffs With US Amid Trade War Threats — Reports

    Last week, the Chinese government formalized the easing of foreign investment limits on a range of industries, decreasing the number of industries in its so-called "negative list," where overseas investors are restricted or banned because of the sectors' strategic importance for the Chinese economy, from 95 to 45 positions.

    The issue of liberalization of the Chinese investment market was one of the main ones in the economic talks that China had with the former US administration, and also several years ago with the EU. It is noteworthy, however, that China's new contribution to the free flow of investment in the world capital market has gone unnoticed by US President Donald Trump. In an interview with Fox News, he again noted that China is hurting US trade and that it's causing more harm than the EU.

    China is positioning itself as a leader of globalization and a consistent supporter of free trade, Liu Ying, from the Beijing People's University told Sputnik, commenting on Beijing's latest decisions on tariffs and investments:

    "This is an important step for China, aimed at forming a new model of openness to the outside world, increasing the level of openness in more areas. It promotes trade liberalization and facilitation, cooperation on the basis of common winnings, mutual preferences and mutual benefits. These steps in the field of reform and opening up have already been proposed at the beginning of the year. They have to do with opening up to the outside world not only in the traditional manufacturing industry but also facilitating access to the markets for trade in services. The last negative list of areas for foreign investment has been significantly reduced by liberalizing investments into the agriculture and extractive industries."

    She continued, "In the context of global trade protectionism and trade wars, China this way promotes reform and opening up, opens the market, cooperates with other countries in the field of transport and communications. While at the same time some individual countries encourage trade protectionism, refuse to promote trade and investment liberalization, facilitation of formalities."

    READ MORE: China to Introduce Tariffs on $34 Billion Worth US Goods on July 6 — Reports

    China's reforms, aimed at trade liberalization, have coincided with the announcement by the United States that it would impose a 25 % tariff on $50 billion of Chinese imports and also with new restrictions on Chinese investments in the American stock market.

    The views and opinions expressed by the experts do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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