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Published: 11:57, June 14, 2022 | Updated: 14:29, June 14, 2022
Official: WTO system basis of global trade
By Zhong Nan
Published:11:57, June 14, 2022 Updated:14:29, June 14, 2022 By Zhong Nan

Ministers discuss pandemic response, fishery subsidies, food security at MC12

The Four Races statue stands outside the World Trade Organisation headquarters in Geneva. (STEFAN WERMUTH / BLOOMBERG)

China is willing to cooperate with all sides to facilitate the World Trade Organization's 12th Ministerial Conference to pursue progress in areas like COVID-19 response and grain security, so that the organization can better promote global economic recovery, said the country's top commerce official.

Addressing the WTO's MC12, which opened on Sunday at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, China's Commerce Minister Wang Wentao said the WTO-centered multilateral trading system is the cornerstone of international trade.

Wang said China will continue to safeguard the multilateral trading system with concrete action and support WTO reforms to move in the right direction, adding that such reforms need to reinforce the organization's functions and promote economic globalization to benefit all members, according to an online statement released by the Ministry of Commerce on Monday.

The Ministerial Conference, which is attended by trade ministers and other senior officials from the organization's 164 members, is the WTO's highest decision-making body, and is generally held every two years.

The WTO should push economic globalization toward a more open, inclusive, balanced and mutually beneficial direction for development through rules updates and system safeguards, Wang added.

As an important contributor to international anti-pandemic cooperation, he said China has provided more than 2.2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations. The country supports the WTO to reach a consensus on TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) waivers for COVID-19 vaccines at an early date.

During the four-day meeting, from Sunday to Wednesday, WTO members will hold discussions on such issues as TRIPS waivers for COVID-19 vaccines, pandemic response, fishery subsidies, agriculture and food security, as well as the organization's reforms and future work priorities.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said that the world is currently facing multiple crises such as the pandemic, food shortages, climate change and regional conflicts, and she called on all parties to work together to overcome the difficulties.

"No one country can solve these crises on its own. This is a time that we need the world to work together," she said during the MC12 meeting.

She said the work of the WTO has made progress, and draft documents have been formed on key issues such as TRIPS waivers for COVID-19 vaccines, pandemic response, fishery subsidies, agriculture and food security.

Kazakhstan was originally scheduled to host the MC12 in June 2020, but the conference was postponed due to the pandemic.

Also on Sunday, Wang, from China's Ministry of Commerce, reiterated that China's economy is resilient and has ample potential, and its long-term positive fundamentals have not changed.

The country is accelerating the pace of building a new development pattern and unswervingly promoting high-level opening-up, which will bring more growth and cooperation opportunities to the world, he said.

Further opening-up in more key sectors will continue to benefit China as well as the global economy, given the size of the Chinese market and the great potential of its innovation industry and high-end manufacturing sector, said Su Qingyi, a researcher at the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges, they do not change our commitment to China. We will open our China Innovation Center in Shanghai next year," said Greg Holman, president for China unit of Stryker Corp, a United States-based medical technology provider.

China's actual use of foreign capital surged by 20.5 percent on a yearly basis to 478.61 billion yuan ($71.07 billion) between January and April, data from China's Commerce Ministry showed.

In the meantime, big-ticket projects invested by Germany's Volkswagen Group, South Korean steelmaker Posco and US retail giant Costco had been implemented well in China, providing strong impetus to the rapid growth of foreign direct investment, said the ministry.

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