China champion of free trade since joining WTO: says Argentine expert
BUENOS AIRES – China has become a champion of free trade, boosting the global exchange of goods and services since joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) 15 years ago, an Argentine expert in international law has said.
In an interview with Xinhua, prominent lawyer Paola De Simone noted that at a time when the global economy is struggling and countries are turning to protectionist measures, China is proposing innovative strategies to spur trade, such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
However, not every country is keen to acknowledge its role.
When China joined the multilateral trade body on Dec 11, 2001, it agreed to a clause allowing other members to use the analogue country method in anti-dumping investigations against its exports.
That clause expired on Dec. 11, 2016, however, the United States, the European Union and Japan have chosen to ignore it in order to maintain duties on increasingly competitive and sophisticated Chinese exports.
China’s transformation into an economic powerhouse is the overriding factor, De Simone said.
“After nearly 40 years of reforms and an opening-up process, China has become the world’s second largest economy and the main trade partner of many countries,” she said.
What’s more, China’s economic growth has served “as an engine of global growth. That engine is driven by high-tech industries,” she added.
In 2015, trade volume between China and Latin America reached $236.5 billion, 20 times more than a decade ago, according to Chinese government figures.
Free trade agreements with countries in the region, including Chile, Peru and Costa Rica, have helped expand trade.
Today, China is the region’s second largest trade partner and third largest source of investment, while Latin America is China’s seventh biggest trade partner and a leading destination for Chinese foreign investment.
This year, China has consolidated its ranking as Argentina’s second trade partner, with a 13 percent increase in imports from the South American country driven by a more diversified range of goods and a more balanced trade structure.
China is the world’s leading importer of Argentine beef, accounting for 35 percent of the country’s total beef exports.