Norway's statement during the 7th trade policy review of China in the World Trade Organisation

Workers assemble monitors at a factory in Huizhou, Guangdong province
Photo: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Trade Policy Reviews (TPRs) are an exercise, mandated in the WTO agreements, in which members' trade and related policies are examined and evaluated at regular intervals. The 7th TPR of China took place on 11 and 13 July 2018. The review was based on a report by the WTO secretariat, and a report by China.

Statement delivered on 11 July 2018 by Ambassador Harald Neple, Norway’s Permanent Representative to the WTO and EFTA:

Chair,

By virtue of the size of its economy, China is a major trading partner for most WTO members. What China does on the trade front matters! Both in economic and systemic terms.

Norway appreciates that China in its TPR report clearly states that China will actively participate in global economic governance, firmly safeguard the multilateral trading system and oppose unilateralism and protectionism. We also note that China will spare no efforts in making globalisation more open, inclusive, and balanced so that its benefits are shared by all. Norway looks forward to China’s continued engagement on these important issues.

Norway notes China’s expressed willingness to contribute to promote liberalization and facilitation of global trade and investments. We look forward to concrete manifestations of this policy statement and to further openings of the Chinese market and China’s strengthened compliance with WTO rules and transparency commitments. We also share the concerns expressed by others on overcapacity and the role of SEOs.

Chair, China highlights the importance of trade and development. If WTO members are to make progress in WTO negotiations and take steps toward strengthening the system that we all depend on, open debates on the interaction between trade and development will be essential. This includes a much-needed debate about the differences among developing members and how emerging economies, including China, can and must contribute.

Norway looks forward to continue working with China to advance trade negotiations. However, safeguarding the negotiating function of the WTO means that negotiating proposals must be carefully calibrated to contribute to negotiated outcomes. This responsibility weighs on our collective shoulders. Conditioning discussions on a work program for future negotiations on domestic support in agriculture on elimination of current AMS of developed members does not fulfil this test.

Norway thanks China for its efforts to implement the Agreement on Trade Facilitation as one of the first members. We look forward to China’s accession to the Agreement on Government Procurement, but believe a revised - and ambitious - Chinese offer is needed to move this process forward.

Chair, China’s protection of intellectual property is one of the underlying issues creating trade frictions. IPR protection continues to be a concern for foreign companies, and Norwegian companies are no exception. Despite some improvements, there is still much work to be done. 2

Norway appreciates the bilateral cooperation with China on government level in several fields. Norway is hopeful and confident that ongoing processes will lead to increased trade and business cooperation. China and Norway are in the process of negotiating a bilateral FTA. Norway looks forward to concluding a comprehensive and not least, modern, free trade agreement with China.

Exports of seafood

to China is one of the extensive areas of economic interaction between our two countries. Norway has some specific concerns on issues such as the CIFER system where establishments need to be registered in order to export seafood to China. Furthermore, procedures for approval of imports of new seafood species and other foodstuffs are cumbersome and time consuming. We will study China’s replies to our written questions regarding these issues.

Chair, Norway welcomes the active participation of China in the negotiations on fisheries subsidies. All Members must show political will and make the necessary domestic policy adjustments to implement all elements of the mandate in SDG 14.6. Norway sees the TPR as an additional source of information about each Member’s fisheries subsidy regime, and, as we have now understood, an updated subsidies notification has been put forward by China and we will study that too.

Let me also mention fossil fuel reform. Norway welcomes Chinese support for the G20 commitment and agenda in this field.

According to China, the WTO should discuss new issues with development implications such as investment facilitation and e-commerce, to respond to the expectations of the business community as well as to maintain its relevance in global governance. Norway thanks China for its participation in the joint initiative from Buenos Aires on investment facilitation for development and its inclusion in the joint ministerial statement on services domestic regulation. We also appreciate that China takes active part in other discussions including on e-commerce. Norway believes that addressing these – and other pressing – issues is part of a necessary update of the WTO in light of the challenges of the 21st century.

Thank you Chair.