"The global economy has changed significantly in the 19 years since China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO). As part of its accession agreement, China lowered its overall tariff rate, dropping its applied import tariffs from a weighted average of 14.7 percent in 2000 to 4.8 percent in 2017. However, due to bilateral trade tensions, China has selectively raised the weighted average tariff rate on US goods to 20.3 percent, up from 8 percent in 2018. China agreed to open some, though not all, of its economy to foreign participation—these commitments have largely been implemented. The accession agreement also changed the way most American companies were able to do business in China, such as by allowing companies to distribute and service their own products in the market.
As the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) has noted in previous annual reports, while China has fulfilled most of the specific obligations of its accession agreement, several commitments fall short of full implementation. The “positive list” approach used in the accession agreement only opened listed sectors. It also meant that new areas of the economy not envisioned at the time of the accession negotiations were not covered by the agreement, including cloud computing, electronic commerce, and other technology services. And while some additional sectors have been opened to foreign participation in the decade since the “roadmap” of obligations expired, the sectors that remain closed are ones that would benefit from liberalization, from both the perspective of foreign companies seeking market access and from those hoping to strengthen the competitiveness of the Chinese economy as a whole."