Respected Director-General Liang, Vice Director-General Huang, Respected Mr. Consul-General of the British Consulate-General in Guangzhou, Experts from Britain, Distinguished Guests,
Good afternoon! I am honored to have this opportunity to speak on the Guangdong "Opening, Development and Participation — the Fifth Anniversary of China's Entering WTO" high-profile forum.
For the past five years since China entered WTO, all local governments have paid high attention to the work concerning WTO. In the system of commerce, organizations that are especially in charge of WTO work have been established. Within the Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation of Guangdong Province，a WTO center was also established. With the great support from the CPC Provincial Committee and the Provincial People's Government, as well as with the active cooperation of different departments and industries, the Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation of Guangdong took the opportunity of development and kept on innovating. In line with the characteristics of Guangdong's economic development, relevant work has been launched actively. To be specific, suggestions were given to provincial government and technical support was provided to the negotiation of China's foreign trade. Great achievements have been made.
This forum, with the theme of "Opening, Development and Participation — the Fifth Anniversary of China's Entering WTO", has summarized the experience of Guangdong's development in the five years following China's accession to WTO, especially in terms of wider opening to the world, integration into the world trade system and richer experience in taking a larger part in WTO affairs. We have also discussed how governments at different levels, relevant departments, chambers of commerce, industrial associations and enterprises can increase their participation in WTO affairs. It also serves as the concluding meeting of the "public participation project of trading policy" program launched together by Guangdong WTO Center and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the British Fund of Education Research. Therefore, I would like to brief you on what we at the Ministry of Commerce have done in promoting public participation in trade negotiations.
1.The importance of taking part in multi-lateral trade negotiations
The purpose of multi-lateral trade negotiations is to make the market of each country more open and, in the process of trade liberalization, make trade contacts among different countries more standardized. In the mean time, the process of trade negotiations is the choice making process for each country to safeguard their own interest, as well as the process in which countries standardize their trade practices to further improve and formulate new rules of multi-lateral games, so that member countries can fully utilize the opportunities brought about by globalization to achieve harmony and development in a stable and standardized trade environment. The new Doha round negotiation launched in 2001, with the theme of "development," brought great opportunities for changing all unfair trade rules, which enabled developing countries to fully participate in the making of international rules and thus benefited from it. This can help improve the imbalance of international trade development. As a new member of WTO and a developing country, China has always taken an active part in the negotiation. Despite the fact that the negotiations have been adjourned, China is still actively making efforts for the resumption of them.
2.Ministry of Commerce has been promoting public participation in trade policy
As a window of multi-lateral negotiation, Ministry of Commerce attaches great importance to the role of local and industrial associations and chambers of commerce and has made great efforts to increase the transparency of government policy making. Now that China has entered WTO, like all the other members and is entitled to take part in the making of international trade rules. While China opens its market to other countries, it demands further greater openness of their market to China. In such a process, we are in great need of knowing the needs of enterprises, industries and local governments. We encourage them to actively participate and make suggestions through different channels. In order to let the public understand the progress of negotiation as well as the information concerning trade policies of other WTO members, following China's accession to WTO, Ministry of Commerce established a bureau of WTO information and a national-level trade policy consultation site. There are also a consultation website of WTO as well as training classes on various levels with different themes, aimed at popularizing the knowledge of WTO for enterprises and improve their professional knowledge. At the end of October this year, Ministry of Commerce organized in Beijing the international symposium on the positive role of Chinese industrial associations, chambers of commerce in international trade negotiations, on which occasion the former WTO ambassador of Canada, chambers of commerce from USA, EU, Japan and Canada, Guangdong and Shanghai WTO management centers, and representatives from some research institutions and industrial associations were invited to introduce their experience of public participation in trade policy. The symposium was a great success. In the future, Ministry of Commerce will continue to promote this kind of work and we hope local governments and enterprises can cooperate with us actively so that synergy can be generated for better WTO-related work in the whole nation.
3.Positive evaluation of Guangdong's trade policy program
The Guangdong WTO Center and the British Federal Fund of Education Research together launched "public participation in trade policy program." This program represents an exploration of Guangdong Province by leveraging Britain's advantages in resources to enhance the public participation at the local level. Just now, Mr. Consul-General of the British Consulate-General in Guangzhou, together with some British experts, gave us some detailed introduction of the program. For instance, Mr. Alexis Krachai shared with us information about the program, which helped us understand the program well. In addition, I hope that in the future, we shall have the opportunity of inviting Professor Jim Rollo to participate in DDA negotiation-related seminars organized by Ministry of Commerce. Mr. Julius Sen also shared with us India's experience, which I find very useful for us in many ways. Particularly, Mr. Sen mentioned things about agriculture and poverty. In fact, China and India are very similar in that respect. Based on the presentations of experts both from China and Britain, I think despite the short span of only one and a half years since we carried out the program, the questionnaires, websites, training classes, organization of international exchanges and the publicizing of trading activities have all been well in focus and have worked well. By doing so, relevant departments, enterprises, and business organizations of Guangdong Province have had a better understanding of the key issues of trade policy. They also have had a better knowledge of the international and national trade policy making process. Their ability to participate in trade policy can also be enhanced and this paves the way for their support to the comprehensive work of Guangdong in response to the "post-transitional period." I hope we can continue our discussion on further cooperation on the basis of the success of this program so that we can generate greater influence and achievement of this program so as to make it stand as a model for other provinces. Once again, let me congratulate on the success of the "public participation project of trading policy" program. Thank you!
(Full text by Shi Miaomiao, Vice Director of the WTO Department of Ministry of Commerce at "Opening, Development and Participation" High Profile Forum marking China's 5th year of WTO membership on November 14, 2006, as transcribed)