China’s Accession to the World Trade Organization

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China’s Accession to the World Trade Organization

After almost 15 years of negotiations, China successfully entered the World Trade Organization on December 11, 2001. In less than three years since its accession, while China’s progress has been somewhat behind schedule, the country has made very significant changes that have helped transition it to a market economy and open the country to the multilateral trading system.

Following the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations, The World Trade Organization (WTO) was established in 1995 as the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The WTO is an international organization that watches over trade relationships between nations dealing with goods, services, intellectual property and investments. The main function of the WTO is “to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible” (“The World Trade Organization”). The WTO helps international cooperation by providing countries with a fair forum for resolving disputes over trade issues. Member countries bring their trade disputes to the WTO rather than acting unilaterally. The organization also strives to lower the cost of living and boost economic growth by reducing protectionism and promoting freer trade. Member countries enjoy the security the trading rules provide, but they are required to commit to opening their markets and abiding by the commitments they agreed to.

The process of joining the World Trade Organization is very complicated. The country applying for membership must first describe all characteristics of its economic and trade policies. The prospective member will then begin parallel bilateral talks with member countries to n...

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