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China and the World Trading System


  • The authors are grateful to Richard Baldwin, C. Fred Bergsten, Chad Bown, Bernard Hoekman, Gary Hufbauer, Pascal Lamy, Patrick Low, Will Martin, Zanny Minton-Beddoes and Martin Wolf for helpful discussions and useful comments and, in particular, to an anonymous referee for detailed comments. The views expressed in the paper are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the World Bank, its Executive Directors or the countries they represent.


The WTO has been until recently an effective framework for cooperation because it has continually adapted to changing economic realities. The current Doha Agenda is an aberration because it does not reflect one of the biggest shifts in the international economic and trading system: the rise of China. Even though China will have a stake in maintaining trade openness, an initiative that builds on but redefines the Doha Agenda would anchor China more fully in the multilateral trading system. Such an initiative would have two pillars. First, a new negotiating agenda that would include the major issues of interest to China and its trading partners and thus unleash the powerful reciprocal liberalisation mechanism that has driven the WTO process to previous successes. Second, new restraints on bilateralism and regionalism that would help preserve incentives for maintaining the current broadly non-discriminatory trading order.