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BEIJING (MNI) - The World Trade Organization should revamp its
categorization of member countries into developing and developed nations, two
trade experts advising the Chinese government have said, suggesting that Beijing
could surrender some benefits for manufacturing while keeping others for areas
such as agriculture.
WTO members should be able to request special treatment on the basis of
their development level in specific areas, said Tu Xinquan, a foreign trade
expert at the Advisory Committee for Economic and Trade Policy of the Ministry
of Commerce, at a discussion on WTO reform at the Center for China and
Globalization on Monday.
The current system grants easier treatment to all countries classified as
developing, prompting tension between Beijing and Washington, which argues that
China is now too wealthy to be considered a developing nation.
With WTO reform on the agenda for June's G20 meeting in Japan, China is
willing to reduce subsidies for some industries and assume more responsibility
as a developing country within the WTO framework, MNI understands.
"In future negotiations members should forget the definitions of developing
and developed countries," Tu said.
Cui Fan, also an expert advisor for the same MOFCOM advisory committee,
agreed: "We don't need to focus on whether you are a developing country or not,
but rather on negotiating differentiated treatment for specific industries."
"Maybe in manufacturing industry, China doesn't need specific and
differentiated treatment any more," Cui said. "But in agriculture, China has a
case for maintaining it."
The same approach could be applied to defining a market economy under the
WTO framework, Cui said.
"A clever way would be to negotiate on specific trade-related issues, such
as subsidies, focus on subsidies, to introduce more subsidy rules," Cui said,
contrasting this to a mechanism being discussed by the U.S., European Union and
Japan, under which all countries would be judged according to seven indicators
including accounting principles, bankruptcy rules and labour market conditions.
Cui said China could compromise in some subsidy categories. "China should
improve transparency standards for subsidies. There's much room for China to
negotiate with the U.S. and other countries on this issue."
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