A Decade in the WTO: Implications for China and Global Trade Governance: Organized by ICTSD, in partnership with China Society for WTO Studies and FES Geneva Office

29 June 2011
Rue de Varembé 1202 Genève, Switzerland


2011 marks China's 10th year in the WTO. In 2001 when China joined the WTO, few might have expected China would gain its economic status as impressive as the reality is today. Within one decade, China doubled its GDP, increased export 4.9 times and import 4.7 times. China’s outward investment (ODI) soared 60 times, from less than USD 1 billion in 2001 to USD 60 billion in 2010. It accumulated world largest foreign reserves of USD 2.8 trillion.

On the other hand, China fast economic growth is unbalanced and, perhaps, unsustainable. It is reported that many Chinese companies are not profitable. The economy is too much dependent on export and investment in fixed-assets, and depends less on domestic consumption. Over 150 million people are living below 1 USD per day. The alarming income disparity is illustrated by the ratio of urban to rural per capita income which is above 3 and the ratio of incomes of coastal provinces to inland provinces which is close to 2.5. Not mentioning that the environment is challenging and social pressures both from within and from outside are mounting.

Against this backdrop, many questions continue to be raised about China’s economic rise. What is the impact of China’s WTO membership on itself and the WTO as a backbone institute of global trade governance? What’s new that China has brought to the WTO? How is China’s influence perceived by other WTO members? And what’s next in terms of role of China in address emerging issues such as climate change, international development and global economic governance?

To address these questions, ICTSD will organize a roundtable in Geneva on "A Decade in the WTO: Implications for China and Global Trade Governance”.


The objective of the dialogue is to generate a better understanding of China’s rise and implications for international trade and world trading system at a moment when both China’s membership and WTO Doha Round enter into their 10th year. It will also seek to identify areas for further research and dialogue in respect to the role of China and other merging countries in setting future trade agenda and sustainable development. Based on this expert meeting, an e-book will be published before the WTO Ministerial Meeting in the end of 2011.


The Dialogue is organized by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) in partnership with China Society for WTO Studies (CWTO), and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) office in Geneva.

Founded in Geneva in September 1996, ICTSD aims to influence the international trade system such that it advances the goal of sustainable development. As an independent, non-profit, and non-governmental organization, ICTSD engages a broad range of actors in ongoing dialogue on trade and sustainable development policy. In advancing its mission, the Centre has become a leading broker of knowledge and information on trade policy and sustainable development.

ICTSD plays a unique, systemic role as a provider of original, non-partisan reporting and facilitation services. ICTSD advances trade policy that supports sustainable development by structuring interaction between policy-makers and key influencers who are often excluded from policymaking processes. ICTSD helps parties better understand the technical and political contexts that underlie their interests and the interests of those with whom they interact on policy issues. In this way, ICTSD builds bridges between groups with seemingly disparate agendas, enabling them to identify and progress on issues where their interests and priorities coincide.

ICTSD launched it China Initiative in 2006. The China Initiative is aimed at leveraging China’s role in global economic governance for a global common future of sustainable development. Its programme is focused on three key themes: global economic governance, trade and investment, international development. It makes intervention at the multilateral, bilateral and national levels.

Bridges China Dialogue is the flagship project of ICTSD China Initiative. The Dialogue is committed to improving China’s globalization in a sustainable manner by engaging Chinese business leaders and policymakers in international multi-stakeholder conversations on governance, strategies, practices and global citizenship.  Since 2007, the Dialogue has become one of most influential international forums on China related issues.

In March 2011, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met ICTSD Chief Executive Mr. Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz in People’s Great Hall.  Wen said, China’s development is inseparable from the world, and the development of the world cannot be realized without China. In his conversation, Premier Wen congratulated ICTSD in its work on global economic governance matters and its focus on sustainability, and expressed appreciation for ICTSD's work in ensuring China’s smoother integration into world economy, advancing sustainable development of China and the world.

ICTSD is very honored to have the partnership support from China Society for World Trade Organization Studies (CWTO). The CWTO is the sole nation-wide non-governmental organization of studying WTO and relevant economic and trade issues based in Beijing, China. Formed voluntarily by government officials, experts and scholars, and institutions all over the country engaged in WTO-related affairs, CWTO is one of the authoritative institutions in the country carrying out research, consulting, training, compilation, publication, and international exchange and cooperation activities in connection with WTO.
ICTSD appreciates its long term partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) on China and global governance programme. As a private cultural non-profit institution, FES is committed to the ideas and basic values of social democracy. With its Geneva office FES takes special interest in UN-debates on trade and development as well as human rights and disarmament. We are grateful for FES Geneva Office’s financial contribution to sponsoring the participation of several speakers in this dialogue.


A number of think pieces will be prepared to stimulate discussions at the dialogue. Discussions at the dialogue will also feed in a book which is scheduled to be published and launched in conjunction with WTO Ministerial meeting in December in Geneva.


The dialogue is intended to be an international multi-stakeholder dialogue with participants from governments, academia, civil society organizations and the business community.


Please click here to see the photos.  Copyright photos courtesy of Yifeng Ren, ICTSD & CWTO.


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