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Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao attended Informal WTO Ministerial Meeting

On the evening of January 29, Beijing time, the 2021 Informal WTO Ministerial Meeting hosted by Switzerland was held virtually. Ministers or their representatives from 29 members, including China, the United States, the European Union and India, were invited to the meeting. Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao attended and addressed the meeting on behalf of China. Deputy Director-General of WTO Alan Wolff, General Council Chair David Walker, and other speakers introduced the latest progress of the WTO's response to COVID-19 and the work on negotiations. Participants exchanged views on post-COVID-19 global economic recovery and the expected outcomes of the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference. Vice Minister of Commerce and Deputy China International Trade Representative Wang Shouwen accompanied the Minister to the meeting, and Ambassador Li Chenggang of the Permanent Mission of China to WTO attended the meeting via video link.

Wang Wentao said that President Xi Jinping recently delivered a special address at the World Economic Forum Virtual Event of the Davos Agenda, elaborating on China's consistent stand of upholding multilateralism and building a community with a shared future for mankind. With the pandemic still ravaging the world, members should come together to join the global fight against COVID-19, strive to keep the market open, intensify efforts to notify the trade-related measures in response to COVID-19, promote the initiative on liberalization of trade in medical products, keep the global supply and industrial chains stable, and jointly build an open world economy.

Wang Wentao pointed out that China is willing to work with all parties to uphold the multilateral trading system, advance reform of the WTO in a way that helps the WTO play a greater role. Therefore, China supports the swift appointment of a new WTO Director-General based on results of the final round of consultations as announced by the General Council Chair and the resumption of the normal functioning of the Appellate Body to strengthen the international community’s confidence in multilateralism. China will continue to participate in the fisheries subsidies negotiations in a constructive manner, and supports the efforts to promote the negotiations to achieve positive progress in areas of investment facilitation, E-commerce, and public stockholding for food security purposes.

Wang Wentao said that 2021 marks the beginning of China’s Fourteenth Five-Year Plan. It is also the Twentieth Anniversary of China’s accession to the WTO. Currently, China is accelerating the move to build a new development paradigm, promoting high-level opening up to the outside world and creating more opportunities for the world. As a responsible major developing country, China is willing to make more contribution in the WTO to the extent commensurate with its economic development level and capabilities.

The Informal WTO Ministerial Meeting is an important meeting mechanism for trade ministers of major WTO members, held at least twice a year. Ministers or representatives of major WTO members would exchange views on important issues such as global economy and trade and advancing the multilateral trade agenda. Informal WTO Ministerial Meeting hosted by Switzerland used to be held during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. This year’s meeting is held virtually under the influence of COVID-19.