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UPDATED: December 5, 2011 NO. 49 DECEMBER 8, 2011
Recognizing Progress

Buying cheaper cars, enjoying more international products, traveling to more countries and seeing "made in China" everywhere around the world—all of these are great changes people experienced after China's entry into the WTO in 2001.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of China being a member of the WTO. In the past decade, China's trade relations with other countries and its role on the world stage have changed tremendously. As the Director General of the WTO Pascal Lamy said, China's entry into the WTO came with a win-win result.

Within this period, China has fulfilled its promise to gradually reduce customs tariffs on imports and revised domestic laws and regulations conforming to WTO rules. China has imported commodities of $750 billion per year on average, which equates to creating over 14 million jobs for trade partners. Meanwhile, foreign enterprises in China remitted profits of $261.7 billion in total, up 30 percent annually on average.

After joining the WTO, China enjoyed the most rapid and sound growth since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, accomplishing the transition to a giant economy. China's GDP increased to 40 trillion yuan ($6.28 trillion) in 2010 from 11 trillion yuan ($1.73 trillion) in 2001, ranking second in the world. China's cargo trade grew to nearly $3 trillion in 2010 from $509.8 billion in 2001, making it the largest export country and the second largest import country in the world.

The market economy status is a tough issue for China since it began to apply for membership in the WTO. After entering the WTO, growing trade disputes have added uncertainty to China's economic future. China has encountered the most anti-dumping investigations for 16 consecutive years (1995-2010), and the most anti-subsidy investigations for five consecutive years (2006-10).

China has been making efforts to acquire a full market economy status. First, it has deepened its reform, especially in the monopoly fields. It has encouraged and supported the growth of the private sector, and has gradually separated the operation from administration in the fields such as petroleum, aviation, railways and telecommunication. The prices of more than 98 percent of commodities are decided by market. China has also reformed its financial sector and the interest rate and exchange rate systems. Second, China has further improved the opening-up structure. It has lowered tariffs and cut non-tariff barriers in line with its WTO committment. It has fully opened its automobile industry to the world, not only the manufacture but also the service sector. Moreover, the Chinese market in the distribution and IT sectors have developed better than average. Third, China has lowered market access threshold, cut market barriers and normalized market order, making efforts to build a unified domestic market.

Up to now, many countries have acknowledged China's market economy status. But the United States, the EU and Japan have not recognized it yet. According to WTO regulations, China will acquire market economy status automatically in 2016 after China has participated in the WTO for 15 years. It is a pragmatic choice to acknowledge China's market economy status early, which will promote the cooperation and partnership between China and other countries for mutual benefit and common development. Definitely, it is a win-win option.

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