Stop targeting China if you want it to support global trade reforms, WTO head tells world powers

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World Trade Organization (WTO) chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has called on countries to stop targeting China if they want cooperation on global reforms, claiming that putting pressure on Beijing will only get “resistance.”

The comments were made by the WTO chief on Monday over continued efforts by the United States, European Union and Japan to get the international trade group to change the rules on government subsidies that the three claim has been used by China to give state-controlled companies an unfair advantage over foreign businesses.

Speaking to a conference held by the European Commission, Okonjo-Iweala suggested targeting China only alienates it further. He urged nations to just “put the facts on the table,” claiming Beijing is “willing” to consider proposals when they are presented without “negative spillovers.”

When China feels it is being targeted, and it’s only about China, you get a lot of resistance.

The proposal from the EU, the US and Japan would seek to close a loophole in the WTO rules that other nations have accused Beijing of exploiting for economic gain. However, to be passed by the WTO, it requires the unanimous support of all 164 members, including China.

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If it is passed, the core element of China’s economic model would be taken away, as countries claim it shouldn’t be able to benefit from measures for developing nations due to its prominence as one of the world’s largest economies.

The WTO chief said that China could potentially be swayed to support the three nations’ proposal if all member states back the curbing of other subsidies, mainly agriculture, to level the international playing field. It’s not clear if the US, EU or Japan would consider such a move.

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