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China: a growing trade power after 10 yrs in WTO
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2011-12-20 13:56

By Li Yuyang

If you wanted to buy foreign high-end consumer goods ten years ago, you needed to ask friends going abroad to bring them back afar; nowadays, we can see goods all over the world in the stores in a lot of inland counties. The change of common consumption life is an epitome of the dramatic change of the Chinese foreign trade.


Providing important support to the global economic growth

In recent years, China expands import through a lot of measures including optimizing the import structure, advancing import facilitation and improving import promotion system, positively and actively promotes trade balance strategy, and plays an important role in exporting aggregate demand to the world under the background of insufficient global effective demand, so as to provide an important support to the global economic growth.

Through great efforts, the Chinese import and export is developing in a more balanced way. Trade surplus in 2009 was $100 billion lesser than that in the last year and it further decreased by $12.6 billion in 2010. It is estimated that the trade surplus will decline to less than 3 percent of GDP.

China's entry of WTO also brings substantial benefit for countries all over the world. In the last ten years, China imported goods valued $750 billion on average every year, equivalent to create over 14 million jobs for trade partners. Foreign-funded enterprises in China have remitted $261.7 billion profit accumulatively to foreign countries, increasing by 30 percent every year. China-funded enterprises abroad employ nearly 0.8 million local people and pay taxes to the local country over $10 billion every year.


Chinese goods with low price and high quality bring huge benefit to foreign consumers. Thanks to import Chinese goods, the US consumers saved over $600 billion in the last 10 years and every family in EU can save 300 euros. Chinese goods trade export in 2010 was close to $1.4 trillion, accounting for 1/10 of the global trade. China has become the largest export market for countries such as Japan, Australia and Brazil, and also the export market with the quickest growth for US.

Improvement from quantitative to qualitative

Since entry of WTO, the multilateral trade system has offered an advantageous external environment for Chinese economic development. With the value of import and export increasing by 21.6 percent on average every year, China has become the largest export and second largest import country in the world. The value of import and export rose to a new high in 2010, close to $3 trillion.

Song Hong, researcher of Institute of World Economics and Politics of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, says "after entry of WTO, China evolves into a big trade country with increasingly expanding trade scale and constantly expanding role." According to data, the proportion of Chinese total export value in the global one increased from 4.3 percent in 2001 to 10.4 percent in 2010; import value increased from 1.7 percent in 2001 to 9.1 percent in 2010.

While stepping forward quickly in the way of big trade country, China, with the objective of "changing mode, adjusting structure and promoting balance", is carrying out a series of measures to speed up structural adjustment, advance the change of foreign trade development mode, vigorously cultivate export brands and further enhance the quality and benefit of the foreign trade goods.

With a steady and rapid growth, the Chinese foreign trade is being optimally restructured. The proportion of processing trade in the whole foreign trade has declined from 47.4 percent in 2001 to 38.9 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, its value-added ratio has increased from 56.9 percent in 2001 to 77.4 percent in 2010. The product structure in processing trade is optimized constantly and changed from focusing on labor intensive to attaching the same importance to labor, technology and capital. The hi-tech manufacturing industry represented by electronic information, precision machinery, biotechnology, new energy, new materials etc. has become the leading industry for processing trade.


Moreover, the Chinese export market is further diversified. With generally steady increase of export to the traditional major trade partners, the export to the rising markets also grows quickly with its proportion further increased. In recent years, a new change for foreign trade growth emerges with the coordinated drive in the both ways of price and quantity, so that the quality and benefit of the foreign trade goods are improved constantly.

Shifting from big to strong

In the starting point of new round of opening to the outside, the Chinese status as "world factory" is faced with a huge challenge. Meanwhile, the Chinese outwardly-oriented economy formed in a long time with resource consumption and low-price labor cost as the major competitiveness is also faced an urgent requirement for transformation. In the future China is not only devoted to a big foreign trade country, but also a strong one.

Therefore, China must speed up the development mode of foreign trade and advance the change of foreign trade from scale expansion to quality benefit and from cost advantage to comprehensive competitive advantage. On the basis of keeping the existing competitive advantage in export, it must accelerate the cultivation of the new advantage with technology, brand, quality and service as its core competitiveness.

In summer Davos Forum this year, Chen Deming, Minister of Commerce, said to people from political and economic circles in the world that China will take 10-year anniversary for entry of WTO as its new starting point to further expand the opening to the outside.

During the period of "12th Five-year Plan", China will stick to principle of attaching the same importance to import and export, and to attract foreign fund and invest in foreign countries and take the opening level to the outside as the new drive to change the economic development mode; enhance participation and capability in international trade rule making and pay more attention to change from accepting the established rules to increasingly and actively participating in rule making; comprehensively enhance the international competiveness of the Chinese foreign trade and participate in the international division of labor and cooperation in a higher level. 
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