In the 20 years since China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), the global economy has changed significantly. China has fulfilled many of the specific obligations of its WTO accession agreement, including opening some, though not all, of its economy to foreign participation and taking positive steps to strengthen intellectual property rights protections. China has continued to fall short, however, in implementing or adhering to some of the broader WTO principles of national treatment and transparency. As a result, foreign firms continue to face challenges accessing the market and competing on a level playing field.
USCBC noted in its 2002 submission for the first Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) hearing on China’s compliance with its WTO commitments that:
“WTO-relevant issues involving entrenched PRC bureaucratic and domestic commercial interests will likely require particular vigilance by the US government and the American private sector, in the interest of effective encouragement of China to reach the fullest possible realization of [its] WTO commitments.”
As advances in technology continue to transform the increasingly interconnected global economy, that vigilance is needed now more than ever. China’s WTO accession has benefited the world economy and the US economy in particular, and the WTO has proven a useful framework for the United States and others to address China’s unfair trade practices. But the framework needs updating and strengthening to ensure it can continue to hold China accountable to existing commitments, and to address new and emerging challenges as they arise.