• A+

2013-12-8 09:04

小艾摘要: When Gao Hucheng, China’s commerce minister, stepped up to the podium at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Bali this week for his opening address it was full of diplomatic language hailing mult ...
When Gao Hucheng, China’s commerce minister, stepped up to the podium at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Bali this week for his opening address it was full of diplomatic language hailing multilateralism and the central role of the WTO.

But buried in his speech was one seemingly-benign line that startled some of the assembled ministers and senior trade officials. “We’re also open-minded towards other multilateral – and plurilateral – negotiations,” Mr Gao said.

In those jargony words lay official confirmation of an important shift in China’s trade policy. After years of defending the multilateral WTO against the perceived threat of plurilateral deals negotiated by some members, China was considering shifting sides.

In so doing, it would be following the path of the US, EU and others who, frustrated at the slow pace of progress in the WTO, have cut out Geneva and begun launching talks outside its umbrella.

Beijing’s change of heart manifested itself quietly this week as the world focused on the hard-nosed negotiations by India that have threatened to block the first global trade deal in the WTO’s 18-year history – one that it is desperate to seal to rebut its critics.

Ever since China joined the WTO in 2001 it has seen the Geneva-based body as a path for trade negotiations beyond the bilateral deals it has signed with other countries. But now China is not only starting to hedge its bets but even offering pointed criticism of the WTO.

“We are seeing a big shift,” says Tu Xinquan, a trade policy expert at the China Institute for WTO Studies at Beijing’s University of International Business and Economics.

One reason is that China’s leadership is frustrated with the WTO’s record at delivering results, Mr Tu says. In his speech, Mr Gao cited the “low efficiency of its decision-making system”.

In spite of the magnitude of its shift, Beijing has been content to leave the stage to India. While Anand Sharma, India’s commerce minister, was threatening to sink the negotiations the lone Chinese public event was an announcement on the first day of the meeting by Mr Gao that China was increasing its support for the “Cotton Four” African countries – Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mali.

The sole drama involving China may have been when a journalist asked Mr Gao, who speaks fluent French and has a doctorate from a Paris university, whether there were any strings attached to the aid. “Is this just philanthropy?” he asked. Mr Gao greeted the question with silence.

The result of China’s emerging ennuis with the WTO is that it is exploring other avenues more aggressively. It has applied to join negotiations led by the EU and US to update the rules governing the $4tn annual trade in services.

When those talks were launched two years ago the then-Chinese ambassador to the WTO is said to have stormed into then-director general Pascal Lamy’s office to demand to know how they could proceed outside the WTO.

Diplomats say Beijing is also inquiring about the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership talks now underway. And some analysts believe it could eventually join the TPP, often described as the US’s economic pivot to Asia and even an attempt to contain China economically.

“We are trying everything we can,” Mr Tu says. “Plurilateral, bilateral, the WTO. As long as it works!”

The reason, he said, was Beijing’s desire to speed up reforms and its view that opening the economy further could help it achieve that aim. But there are still barriers in China’s way.

European and US officials are sceptical of China’s bid to join the Trade in Services Agreement discussions now taking place between more than 50 countries representing some 70 per cent of the global trade in services. They point to the collapse of talks over IT products, blamed on China, as a cautionary example.

Any move to join the TPP would also be years away. The tensions with Japan, a TPP member, over the no-fly zone China has imposed over disputed islands in the East China Sea do not help, officials say.









尽管立场发生了巨大转变,中国政府仍乐意把舞台让给印度。在印度商业部长阿南德?沙玛(Anand Sharma)威胁要破坏世贸谈判的同时,中方在会议第一天唯一的公开活动是由高虎城宣布,中国将加大对非洲“棉花四国”——贝宁、布基纳法索、乍得及马里——的支持力度。



据称,两年前当该谈判启动时,时任中国驻WTO大使曾冲进当时的WTO总干事帕斯卡?拉米(Pascal Lamy)的办公室,想要了解这类谈判如何能在WTO框架外进行。

外交官们表示,中方还在探听12国正在开展的“泛太平洋伙伴关系”(Trans-Pacific Partnership,简称TPP)谈判。部分分析人士认为,中国最终可能加入TPP,尽管TPP被称为是美国意图把经济重心转向亚洲、甚至是在经济上遏制中国的手段。






  • 我的微信
  • 扫一扫加关注
  • weinxin
  • 微信公众号
  • 扫一扫加关注
  • weinxin


:?: :razz: :sad: :evil: :!: :smile: :oops: :grin: :eek: :shock: :???: :cool: :lol: :mad: :twisted: :roll: :wink: :idea: :arrow: :neutral: :cry: :mrgreen: