9-10 May 2022
ITEM 4. TWELFTH SESSION OF THE MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE
Thank you Chair for the report.
As we are counting down to the MC12, we do hope that all relevant information, especially on ministers’ activities could be circulated as early as possible, as detailed as possible and as certain as possible. In the meantime, to avoid any surprise, those non-traditional events should be consulted with members before making the decision. In this regard, I would like take this opportunity to thank Chair for your consultation with us.
I would not repeat what I said in the TNC meeting last week, just highlight 4 points.
First, on outcome document. We support to have a kind of Ministerial Declaration as far as possible. We are flexible to have a Chair’s summary on issues that consensus cannot be reached, including on remaining negotiations. But if we are going to have such a Chair’s summary, it should:
No. 1, not be politicized but focused on WTO business.
No. 2. reflect members’ views in a balanced way. And all members’ voices should be heard.
Second, on closed-door session right after the opening ceremony. We understand this is a session for ministers to focus on the multiple challenges facing the multilateral trading system. It can be anticipated that most ministers would like to ask for the floor. We understand it will be TNC meeting style but chaired by MC12 Chair with a 3-minute limitation for each intervention.
Third, on plenary statement. We still believe in-person format is the best way for ministers as this is an in-person ministerial conference, especially in the current difficult situation.
Finally, as the world is facing compounded crisis, it has been noted that trade measures are becoming inward-looking and even politicized. Growing restrictive measures have severe impacts on economic recovery, supply chain and food security. We hope the coming MC12 could send a strong signal that WTO members recommit to pursuing open and free market, and refraining from taking such restrictive measures as far as possible.
I will stop here, thank you Chair.
ITEM 4A. WTO RESPONSE TO THE PANDEMIC
China always considers the WTO response to pandemic as the most pressing issue. Reaching a multilateral outcome by MC12 remains our priority. We take note that members are talking among themselves during the strategic pause. We hope such a process will lay a good basis for next step discussion. Time is not in our hand now. Flexibility is needed from all sides. Otherwise, we can reach nothing. All sides should take a pragmatic attitude and address each other’s issues in a balanced way. China will constructively engage with other members.
ITEM 5. TRIPS COUNCIL MATTER
China supports the status report made by the Chair of TRIPS Council Ambassador Gberie.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank DG Dr. Nogzi, DDG Anabel, Ambassador Gberie and Quad members for producing the text which was circulated last week. China, in general, supports to have this text as a basis for further discussions. It is our hope that members’ key concerns, including ours, could be properly addressed in the following discussions, paving the way for delivering a long-awaited and urgently-needed outcome as soon as possible.
As we stated in the TRIPS Council meeting last Friday, China has serious concern on and is not in a position to accept the second brackets of footnote 1. In our view, using the criterion of export share to define eligible members will send a wrong signal to the outside and also have systemic implication to the future negotiations.
Mr. Chair, China is a significant contributor to the global pandemic
response and a staunch supporter of TRIPS waiver on COVID-19 vaccines. To
further demonstrate our pragmatism and constructiveness and to better
facilitate the negotiation, China hereby announces that if our concern on the
footnote is addressed, we will not seek to use the flexibility provided by this
decision. We hope our positive movement could be reciprocated with the same
level of pragmatism and flexibility from other major stakeholders, so that an
outcome that benefits developing members and LDCs in genuine needs could be
reached at an earliest date before MC12.
About one-third of the LDCs are on their path to graduate from the LDC status. While this is a development achievement for celebration, these countries are often facing challenges and uncertainties after graduation, especially against the critical challenges in recent years.
The proposal WT/GC/W/829 has taken into account members’ views and shown the flexibility and positive engagement of the LDC group.
China supports the smooth transition for graduated LDCs. Support measures, including the extension of preferential market access, will serve as an impetus for graduating LDCs to set proper transitional strategies and provide a predictable and reliable environment.
Since 2013, China has been providing a 3-year zero-tariff treatment to graduated LDCs and constantly increases the coverage of zero-tariff lines as support measures to ensure LDC’s smooth transition.
We call for members’ constructive discussions and proactive engagement with an aim of providing a better chance for the graduating and graduated LDCs to integrate into the global trading system.ITEM 8. JOINT STATEMENT ON OPEN AND PREDICTABLE TRADE IN AGRICULTURAL AND FOOD PRODUCTS
Thank you Chair.
Given the food security challenges we are facing, China always believes that the WTO has a role to play and should play its part in the global efforts to address such challenges.
In this regard ,we would like to join others to thank the cosponsors for the submission of this proposal. We see some important elements in the document, to which the WTO could make contributions, such as keeping our food and agricultural market open, predicable, and transparent.
We recognize the necessity and importance to keep the free flow of trade. We urge members to ensure the emergency measures taken be targeted, proportionate, transparent and temporary, and in accordance with WTO rules.
In the meantime, we would like to highlight the following 2 elements. Through bilateral consultation, we know that the African Group will also emphasize these elements. We believe they should be the WTO priorities from trade perspective to help developing members achieve food security.
Number one, leveling the playing field. With the fact that self-supply accounts for above 80% of food consumption . it is important to ensure that trade rules not only maintain an open and predictable market system, but also create a fair and equitable environment which will enable developing members to fully utilize and enhance their own food production capacity through addressing the existing asymmetries in the AOA.
Number two, early outcome of PSH and SSM negotiations. Existing crisis further shows the urgency on conclusion of the long overdue mandated PSH and SSM negotiations, which could be WTO’s direct response to the food crisis.
ITEM 10. WORK PROGRAMME ON ELECTRONIC COMMERCE AND MORATORIUM ON IMPOSING CUSTOMS DUTIES ON ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSIONS
We thank all the proponents for their proposals. It is worth noting that the moratorium may cause significant tariff loss to developing members. It may also have diverse impacts on SMEs as well as digital industrialization in developing members. Thus, more clarity on the definition and scope of the moratorium is needed to help members assess its potential economic costs and benefits.
While we support to continue discussion on these issues, we see the
urgency for all members to reach consensus on the moratorium by MC12. We
believe this will not only provide predictability and certainty to the business
community, but also give us room for future discussions.
We thank Mexico for its introduction. We also thank the US and other co-sponsors for submission of the proposal and outreach to us.
We support that the draft is to reaffirm members’ right and obligations established by SPS Agreement, rather than to launch negotiation of new obligations, or re-open, or amend the SPS Agreement.
However, we note that certain language in the draft could have an impact on the balance of the existing rights and obligations under the SPS Agreement. China appreciates the previous discussions with the cosponsors and would like to continue to work with them in order to have it settled as early as possible.
ITEM 14. INTELLEATUAL PROPERTY, TRANSFER OF TECHNOLOGY AND CAPACITY BUILDING FOR COVID-19 AND BEYOND
China thanks Brazil for its communication. We share the observation that there is a growing technological gap between developed and developing members. The imbalance and inequity of COVID-19 vaccines distribution is a clear example in this regard.
We believe the WTO, by facilitating technology transfer and providing
capacity building, has a critical role to play in addressing the current
challenges. China supports the WTO’s work on trade and health, and proposes to
make better use of the platforms like WGTTT and TRIPS council to promote the
technology transfer and dissemination to developing members.
China welcomes the revised proposal from the LDC group and appreciates their insightful thoughts on WTO reform at this crucial juncture.
We share the view that WTO reform process should be open, inclusive and transparent. Every voice, particularly LDCs’ should be heard. We also hope that LDC’s longstanding concerns on their capacity to engage in the multilateral trading system and to benefit from global supply chain could be well addressed in the WTO reform process. In the meantime, I would also like to appreciate LDC’s call for restoring the two-tiered dispute settlement system and urge on the nomination of AB members at the earliest possible time.
China is ready to work together with other members, including LDCs on WTO reform and always commits to giving our continuous support to LDCs.