China in the WTO

Remarks delivered at the third annual Tech, Trade and China conference at the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology at University of California, Berkeley

April 27, 2021

China in the WTO – some general points.

  • All WTO Members benefit from WTO Membership.  But during these 25 years of WTO history, China has been perhaps the greatest beneficiary of any Member if measured by its gains in trade, particularly in manufactured goods.
  • It went from accounting for under 3% of total world trade to over 13% and is now the world’s largest exporting country. 
    • The certainty of foreign market access offered by the WTO paved the way for this expansion, despite special remedies (safeguards and antidumping) being available to its trading partners with respect to China’s trade for 12 and 15 years, respectively.
    • The special trade review mechanism for IP enforcement in China expired after 11 years.
  • Without WTO Membership and without China’s increased earnings from trade, one can speculate as to whether it could have  afforded the scale of its Belt and Road initiative or its series of ambitious series of five-year plans targeting aerospace, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, information technology, semiconductors, quantum computing, robotics, advanced machinery and rail, deep sea technologies, and new materials.

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Alan Wm. Wolff Senior Research Staff

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