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Working Paper 11-22

A China Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations

by Aaditya Mattoo, The World Bank
and Arvind Subramanian, Peterson Institute for International Economics

December 2011


Until recently, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been an effective framework for cooperation because it has continually adapted to changing economic realities. The current Doha Agenda is an aberration because it does not reflect one of the biggest shifts in the international economic and trading system: the rise of China. Even though China will have a stake in maintaining trade openness, an initiative that builds on but redefines the Doha Agenda would anchor China more fully in the multilateral trading system. Such an initiative would have two pillars. First, a new negotiating agenda that would include the major issues of interest to China (export restrictions on foodstuffs, investment rules, and green protectionism) and its trading partners (exchange rates and state capitalism), and thus unleash the powerful reciprocal liberalization mechanism that has driven the WTO process to previous successes. Second, new restraints on bilateralism and regionalism that would help preserve incentives for maintaining the current broad non-discriminatory trading order.

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