China and the World Trade Organization

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China became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 11 December 2001.' The admission of China to the WTO was preceded by a lengthy process of negotiations and required significant changes to the Chinese economy. It also meant a deeper integration of China into the world economy.


Until the 1970s, China’s economy was managed by the communist government and was kept closed from other economies. Together with political reforms, China in the early 1980s began to open its economy and signed a number of regional trade agreements. China gained observer status with GATT and from 1986, began working towards joining that organization. China attempted to become a founding member of the WTO, seeking recognition as a world economic power. This attempt failed because the United States as well as the European states and Japan requested changes in the Chinese economy before accepting it as a member. These conditions included tariff reductions, open markets and industrial policies.

These changes were difficult steps for China and conflicted with its prior economic strategy. Accession meant that China would engage in global competition according to rules that it did not make. The admission of China to the WTO was „an enormous multilateral achievement”[1] which marked a clear commitment towards multilateralism from the Chinese perspective.

United States role[edit]

The U.S. acted as a dominant power in the international economy and strongly supported an open system. They had a great interest in China because it was one of the fastest growing markets for US goods and services. U.S. imports from China almost doubled within five years from 51.5 billion dollars in 1996 to 102 billion dollars in 2001.[2] The US imposed additional conditions on China and so there were, from a Chinese perspective, both positive and negative aspects linked with admission.

Other related WTO members[edit]


  1. ^ Schumpeter Business and management (5 December 2011). "Money talks: December 5th 2011: An enormous multilateral achievement". The Economist. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  2. ^ "Foreign Trade - U.S. Trade with China". Retrieved 2012-07-06.