Trade Policy Review of China, 21 – 23 May 2008
Opening statement by the Delegation of Norway
1. First, Chair, I wish to express my delegation’s condolences and deep sympathy with the victims, their relatives and the Chinese people following the tragedy in Sichuan.
2. I wish to join previous speakers in extending a warm welcome to the Chinese delegation headed by H. E. Madame QIU Hong, Assistant Minister of Commerce, to this second TPR of China and for her most interesting opening statement.
3. I also join others in expressing our appreciation to the Government of China and the WTO secretariat for the two interesting reports that provide a sound basis for this review, and to Ambassador Muhamad Noor Yacob for his very valuable contribution as our discussant.
4. A number of speakers have highlighted the importance China is now playing in the World economy, and we think very rightly so. We would also like to commend China for the way in which the country’s accession commitments have been implemented. This augurs well for all of us and for the future of the WTO and testifies to the importance that China attaches to the multilateral trading system and its own responsibilities in that regard.
5. China is a key player in the Doha Development Round. Ambassador Sun and his dedicated team here in Geneva ensures that China will also put its stamp on the outcome of the Round.
6. I would like to make a couple of systemic remarks regarding economic policy before picking up on more sector specific issues.
7. First of all, let me again emphasise our great respect for the work being done on all levels in China, both by the government and in the private sector, to develop and expand the economy. China has made and continues to make great efforts to develop the economy for the benefit of the whole population. Focus on rural and regional development including continued investments in infrastructure and its upkeep, increasing education, health and social benefits, even above the average annual growth in tax income, is a policy we do commend. Countering the widening social and economic disparities is of the essence, and as we understand it, high on the political agenda of China.
8. The emphasis today on so-called “Scientific Development” with a focus on balanced development and quality growth, rather than growth in quantity, also represents an important step in the direction of placing environmental concerns and efficient energy consumption as one of the major priority areas of the broader economic policy. In that context we believe it would be useful to remind ourselves of the importance of using the right incentives in order to optimize the results that the various policies are aimed at reaching. We note that there has been little development regarding pricing since the last report two years ago. Systemically, correct market oriented pricing that includes externalities should be enforced faster than what seems to be the case for a wide variety of goods and inputs including energy.
9. As an incentive issue as well, we would suggest even greater emphasis on eliminating export rebates, for the reasons elaborated in the Secretariat’s report. As in so many areas, we observe that China also on this issue is on the right track and would encourage further development in this direction.
10. Regarding more sector specific comments, I should like to focus today on government procurement, IPR and trade in fish.
11. We welcome the application of China to join the GPA. This is an important development which will benefit also China.
12. The GPA members include utilities in their market access commitments for the GPA. Utilities in this context include electricity, bus, railway, airports, ports, post, water and sewage. It would be of interest to learn more about how these sectors are treated when it comes to public procurement rules in China.
13. Regarding the field of protection of intellectual property rights, Norway would like to ask what further measures Chinese authorities are planning in order to strengthen the implementation of the rights of IPR holders and to ensure transparency regarding policy processes and all IPR- related legal and administrative procedures towards both domestic and foreign users and stakeholders.
14. We see the Chinese market as increasingly interesting for Norwegian seafood, but Norwegian exporters also encounter obstacles. As we referred to at the TPR two years ago, the Chinese system of customs and imports for seafood continues to be very complex. Different points of entry use different sets of rules and needs for documentation. Both Norwegian and Chinese authorities conduct seafood safety inspections and there is a good and growing cooperation between our countries. However, many SPS regulations in China remain a challenge and we need to continue to work together to solve these issues.
15. Finally, Chair, we too would like to wish China a most successful second TPR.