China Appeals for Revival of Fair Trade
World leaders have been discussing a host of issues at the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, this week as the global economy battles to regain stability. Among the issues raised by Chinese President Hu Jintao were free trade and economic growth. In a speech addressing delegates of the G20 summit, President Hu called for the opposition of all types of protectionism in the interests of creating a free, open and fair trade environment on a global scale. He noted that China’s stance on free trade is more relevant than ever before, as fair trade principles can be abandoned in times of economic crisis. He emphasized the need for efforts to be made in keeping both regional and bilateral trade open and inclusive, thus safeguarding the multi-lateral trade system.
President Hu’s viewpoint is backed by a World Bank report which notes that between November 2008 and March 2012, governments around the world put into place more than a thousand trade measures which could be viewed as discriminatory. The majority of these governments are G20 members. Independent global trade think-tank, Global Trade Alert, confirms that China has been the chief target of international trade disputes for seventeen years running. Moreover, China has been in the spotlight on issues of renminbi exchange rates and intellectual property rights. This year alone, investigations relating to Chinese goods have increased by 80 percent when compared with the same period last year.
While acknowledging that the prolonged distress of US and European economies, along with high unemployment rates, would cause domestic pressure, this is not seen as an acceptable reason for raising trade barriers – particularly when those trade barriers only restrict imports from China and not exports to the country. A 2000-2011 report by the United States-China Business Council, exports from the US to China climbed by more than five times to US$103.9 billion, while China’s average export growth rate was 80 percent.
It has been pointed out that the United States and the European Union were the architects of the current trade regulations, with the deck stacked in their favor. China is calling for developing nations, including BRICS member states, to be better represented in global markets.