Beijing, 15 September 2005

Lamy lauds China's contribution to world economy

Director-General Pascal Lamy, in a message on 15 September 2005 from Geneva to the Fourth Beijing International Forum on WTO and China (2005) and the Sixth Beijing Chaoyang International Business Festival, said that China's recent growth shows that a more open economy is the best way to boost competitiveness.

I am pleased to hear that the Fourth Beijing International Forum on WTO and China (2005) and the Sixth Beijing Chaoyang International Business Festival are being held on 15 and 16 September 2005 in Beijing, China. On such an important occasion, I wish to extend my warm congratulations to the organizers. I am grateful to the sponsors for their very kind invitation. Owing to prior professional commitments which keep me in Geneva this week, I am unable to attend this high-level conference personally.

This Conference shows that China has achieved what many developing countries aspire to achieve: a stable economic growth and an attractive base for foreign direct investment. China became a WTO Member on 11 December 2001, just a few weeks after the launching of the Doha Development Agenda negotiations. China's integration into the multilateral trading system and China's economic success is a tribute to the vision of China's policy makers. Progressive opening of trade and investment has played a key role in China's economic growth and development over the past 25 years. For years, China has been playing an important role in contributing to the expansion of the global economy. This role has become stronger with China's entry into the WTO. Recent international trade data by the WTO shows that China already exports and imports more goods than Japan and has surpassed Japan's total merchandise exports in 2004. China has become the world's third largest trading nation behind the United States and Germany.

As the last decade of reforms has shown, a more open economy is the best way to boost competitiveness. With more open markets, Chinese businesses will continue to improve their overall ability to respond to new market opportunities. China has made noteworthy strides in promulgating and publishing laws and regulations, and building transitional administering authorities. In this period of evolving regulations, the importance, for Chinese enterprises of regulating transparency, legal predictability, stability and consistency is of absolute importance. WTO Members are encouraged by China's implementation of its WTO commitments which are now in a decisive phase. China's strong growth has provided an important stimulus for export-led growth in the world during the past years. China's boom is potentially an economic boom for the world and the potential of benefiting from the WTO multilateral trading system is far from exhausted, on the contrary.

The Hong Kong, China Ministerial Conference will be held from 13 to 18 December 2005. I wish to highlight that helpful discussions were held in a WTO Mini Ministerial Meeting held in Dalian, China on 12 and 13 July 2005. From now on, we have eleven weeks to prepare for the conference. Ambitions remain high for significant results across a broad range of issues by then. Even if Hong Kong, China is not the end of the road to a successful concluding of the Doha Development Agenda, we must have walked two thirds of the way. This means focused and serious work in Geneva in the coming weeks. Bearing in mind the principle of the Single Undertaking, where nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, negotiators need to show greater willingness to accommodate each other's needs. We need to apply more creative energy to finding solutions that everyone can accept or live with.

The DDA negotiations should be concluded in 2006. The aim is to make the world trade system more open and more inclusive. The results of the Doha Development Agenda must provide a powerful tool for countries to promote investments, job creation and economic expansion. There is no credible alternative to a stronger, rules-based multilateral trading system which has done so much to underpin the tremendous expansion of the global economy in the last fifty years.

I have visited China many times and I could witness personally the impressive changes over the years. China's accession to the WTO, the success of Beijing's bidding for the 2008 Olympic Games as well as the designation of Shanghai as host of the World Expo 2010, are all signs of the great speed with which China is opening to the outside world and which will allow China to create a stronger international presence. The huge business opportunities and development potential in China as well as the ever-improving investment environment in the country are magnets for international investors.

One important point, however, is that we must move away from the tendency to treat environmental protection and sustainable development as the source of extra costs and therefore impediments to economic development. China has already recognized that this approach is counter-productive and not feasible in the long run.

Environment and sustainable development cannot be dealt with separately from the management of the economy as a whole. Sustainable development requires fundamental changes in economic management to provide a positive synthesis between the environment, social, regional and economic dimensions of the development process. Improved efficiency would not only be good for China's environment, but for the sustainability of its economic progress. China is already on track to resolving the daunting challenges it faces. In doing so it will fulfil its destiny as a truly great nation which will help to shape a more promising and sustainable future for all the world. I am pleased to know that the Chinese Government has adopted an overall development strategy to build a “harmonized society” in which the environment is one of the priorities.

The Beijing International Forum on WTO and China and the Beijing Chaoyang International Business Festival have become one of the city's most vibrant business events. These provide excellent platforms of exchanges and cooperation for the development of Beijing's economy. These annual events maximise exchanges among Chinese private entrepreneurs and multinational enterprises. It also became the best chance for Beijing's further opening and attracting foreign investment.

In conclusion, let me wish the Fourth Beijing International Forum on WTO and China (2005) and the Sixth Beijing Chaoyang International Business Festival, and all the participants the greatest possible success!