China Marks Decade in WTO Amid EU, U.S. Criticism

China’s decade in the World Trade Organization thrust the nation into the top spot in industries ranging from textiles to cars. The world’s No. 2 economy now faces calls to open its market further and play by WTO rules.

China joined the Geneva-based WTO on Dec. 11, 2001, capping a 15-year drive to join the rules-based trading system and giving foreign companies from Yum! Brands Inc. and General Motors Co. to HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) and Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) a bigger foothold in the world’s most-populous market.

Since then, China has become the world’s biggest exporter and second-largest importer. Trade in goods such as clothing, electronics, toys and appliances soared to almost $3 trillion last year from $510 billion in 2001, with both exports and imports growing almost fivefold.

Clothing, Cars – World Biggest Producer

China’s textile exports amounted to $77 billion in 2010, or 31 percent of the world’s total, and its garment exports were worth $130 billion, or 37 percent, data released by the WTO show. The Asian nation, which overtook the U.S. in annual car production and sales in 2009, will sell more than 18 million vehicles in 2011 even as deliveries increase the least in 13 years, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said on Dec. 9.

Investments Abroad Rise $60bn

Foreign financing in China has climbed to more than $700 billion in the last decade while Chinese investments overseas surged to $60 billion in 2010 from less than $1 billion in 2000, Assistant Commerce Minister Yu Jianhua said last month.

Europe is second only to the U.S. in the number of trade disputes with China at the WTO. The 27-nation EU has filed fivecomplaints against China over raw materials, auto parts and duties on steel fasteners while the U.S. has lodged 12, and the bloc imposes anti-dumping duties on almost 60 products from China, more than any other nation.

China spent the weekend celebrating its 10 years as a member of the global trade community. That’s because millions of Chinese have enjoyed a better quality of life since their country became the WTO’s 143rd member, Yi said.

“Our economic growth went beyond our expectations,” he said. “The annual growth rate is around 10 percent and more than 200 million Chinese people were lifted out of poverty. That’s a marvelous achievement.”