November 28, 2005
China & The WTO
Posted by Gordon Smith

The WTO's gamble on China seems to have paid off. Import tariffs have fallen dramatically over the past four years, and trade with China has been booming. This interesting article in the IHT quotes Owen Nee, a U.S. lawyer at the Orrick firm, on the effect of WTO requirements on China's internal political situation:

If Beijing tells provincial authorities to do something, they don't listen. But if they are told these are WTO rules then there is more chance of compliance.... You have this very interesting situation post-Tiananmen Square where, in order to stay in power, the Communist Party has to run a capitalist economy, and they are doing it quite well.

The W$J is also covering this story in anticipation of upcoming meetings in Hong Kong, where the U.S. is expected to pressure China for increased reforms, especially with regard to enforcement of intellectual property rights. We are all familiar with this problem, but the W$J points to another issue that could take on increased importance in the near future:

Standards. Beijing has begun to introduce national technology standards for a range of products that foreign firms say erect new nontariff barriers in violation of WTO rules requiring fair competition. They say China is developing standards that diverge from leading international technologies in such areas as Internet protocols, mobile communications and data protection.

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