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Protectionism worries Chinese envoy

2013-04-02 14:42 China Daily     Web Editor: qindexing comment
Yi Xiaozhun, China's ambassador to the WTO.

Yi Xiaozhun, China's ambassador to the WTO.

Ambassador to WTO not optimistic about exports amid sluggish global economic recovery

He has kept a low profile, but as the Chinese ambassador to the World Trade Organization, nobody can ignore his job, especially given the slowdown of Chinese exports and the rising trade-remedy cases against China amid the eurozone debt crisis.

During an interview with China Daily, Yi Xiaozhun, also a former vice-minister of commerce, covered topics ranging from trade probes against Chinese products, China's export prospects and the future of made-in-China goods to China's role in the WTO. He also expressed his concern about the suspension of the Doha round of talks and the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, known as TPP.

Yi is not optimistic about China's exports and the increasing global trade protectionism against it, saying that his task will be "harder" and that China has to be "fully prepared".

Last year, Chinese exporters were hit with a series of trade probes and hefty duties launched by developed economies, including the United States and European Union member countries, mainly targeting the solar panel and telecom industries. The nation also missed its 10 percent target for foreign trade growth, amid lackluster global demand.

The ambassador is firm in his belief that all sides should advance the Doha round of talks to alleviate global trade frictions and to revive the global economy. He encouraged free trade agreements, but argued that multilateral trade pacts, or Doha, should be the mainstream under the WTO framework.

Q: As China's second ambassador to the WTO, what do you think of the change of China's role in the organization?

A: We feel that China is getting more respect and appreciation, and that our voice is being given more attention. But at the same time, I also feel the pressure to deliver, to create a favorable and fair environment for Chinese exporters.

Chinese exporters have been facing more trade barriers and investigations worldwide. Are increasing trade frictions a key source of the pressure?

Trade frictions targeting China have been, and will be, a situation that China has to face and deal with in the long term. And we've all noticed that global trade protectionism against China is getting worse: the value of the cases is increasing, and more cases are targeting China's high-end industries and high-tech sector. This makes the job more difficult. But this pain is part of China's growth. It's unavoidable and we must face it.

Many experts believe that China will have to face escalating trade frictions globally this year. Do you think so?

China's exports have been severely hit since the start of the global financial crisis. And as China's major trade partners, such as the United States, the European Union and Japan are facing economic problems, their trade protectionist measures against China will rise. We have to be clear about this. And we also have to be on high alert, because this will probably be a trend that will be seen in the coming years. We have to be fully prepared for that.

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