From the Doha Round to the China Round: China's growing role in WTO negotiations

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Book Chapter

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On 11 November 2001, China finally acceded to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Doha, Qatar, at the Fourth Ministerial Conference, which also launched the first negotiating round of the new trade body since its establishment. As China is the largest country that has ever acceded to the WTO, many commentators predicted that its accession would change the dynamics of the negotiations. However, commentators differ in their interpretations on how such change will affect the multilateral trading system. Some viewed this in a more positive light, pointing out that China would strengthen the developing country bloc and make the WTO a more balanced institution. Others, however, were not so optimistic. Instead, they argued that the Chinese accession would upset the existing power structure of the WTO and make it more difficult to conduct negotiations and reach decisions. Now in its fourteenth year of WTO membership, how has China changed the dynamics in the global trade negotiations? This chapter addresses the impact of China in relation to the WTO negotiations. It commences with a brief discussion on how trade negotiations are conducted in the WTO, followed by an examination of China's participation in the Doha Round so far. As this chapter reveals, China started as a reluctant player in the negotiations and only gradually made its way into the core decision-making group of the WTO rather late during the round. Even though now China has been accepted as a member of the G-7, the most powerful group in the WTO, it has been playing only a supportive rather than a leading role. Judging from its behavior so far, we can see that China does not really challenge the status quo. Instead, its modus operandi has largely been in conformity with the existing paradigm. The chapter explains the reasons for such low-profile approaches and also examines the value of the Chinese proposals so far from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives.


International Trade Law, East Asia, Government policy, China


Asian Studies | International Trade Law


China in the international economic order: New directions and changing paradigms


Lisa Toohey, Colin Picker & Jonathan Greenacre

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Cambridge University Press

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New York

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