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CM13/ Abu Dhabi / Media Briefing: China reaffirms its support in the smooth transition of graduated LDCs


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Ph:DR: M. Li Chenggang, l’Ambassadeur de la Chine à l’OMC

At the WTO Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi, the graduation of LDCs is one of the key topics of this thirteenth meeting. The graduation of LDCs represents an important step in the development of these countries. However, the phasing out of international support measures associated with LDC status may pose challenges for affected countries as they seek to fully integrate into the global economy. The main objective of the WTO is to help developing countries participate fully in the global trading system. To this end, duty-free market access opportunities are now offered to LDCs with measures that promote simple and transparent preferential rules of origin, so that LDC exports can benefit from them. During the question-and-answer exercises, His Excellency, Mr. Li CHENGGANG, Ambassador to the WTO, reaffirms China’s support in the smooth transition of reclassified LDCs through various responses.

Aline ASSANKPON

Mr. Li CHENGGANG what support does China offers to LDCs in their graduation process? Is China ready to continue the current preferential facilitation?

Mr. Li CHENGGANG : As of the topic of “LDC graduation”, with an increasing number of LDCs meeting the criteria of graduation and 19 out of the 35 WTO LDCs

members on their path towards graduation, it is imperative than ever to explore pathways at the WTO to facilitate the smooth transition of LDCs.

China supports the smooth transition of graduated LDCs. Supporting measures, such as extending preferential trade arrangements for market access, will help encourage LDCs to formulate national strategies for transition and provide them with a predictable and reliable trading environment. That is why China extends its duty-free treatment to the graduated LDCs for three years. That means, after LDCs’ graduation, China still provides zero tariff treatment for 98% tariff lines of products originating from LDCs for another three years. Moreover, China provides various technical assistance and capacity building support to the graduating LDCs. For instance, China Program helps graduating LDCs better participate into and benefit from the WTO through holding accession round tables and South South Dialogues.

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Looking to the future, we call on all WTO members to constructively participate in relevant discussions to help LDCs in the graduation process and those who already graduated better integrate into the global trading system.

 On the trade front, China is one of Africa’s leading partners. Could this influence the decisions of certain African states in WTO negotiations?

China attaches great importance to developing trade relations with Africa. China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 15 years in a row. In 2023, China-Africa trade reached a record high of 282.1 billion US dollars. China’s import of non-agricultural products has recorded positive growth for many years in a row, becoming a highlight of China-Africa trade cooperation. As the largest developing member of the WTO, China has always firmly supported the multilateral trading system,

practiced genuine multilateralism, earnestly fulfilled its WTO commitments, and actively helped other developing members, including African countries, integrate into the multilateral trading system. Adhering to the principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, China supports and respects the independent decisions made by the African side and contributes « African strength » to safeguarding the multilateral trading system. China is willing to maintain cooperation with African countries under the WTO framework and actively safeguard the common interests of developing members.

What is China’s strategy in investing so much on the Continent, particularly in Mali, with the construction of major infrastructures (university, bridge, some as donations, others as loans)?

Infrastructure construction is a traditional and key area of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, and the two sides have achieved remarkable results in cooperation. In recent years, China-Africa infrastructure cooperation has been expanding from traditional forms such as aid and contract projects to emerging models such as investment and public-private partnership (PPP). A number of landmark projects have been built in transportation, power and communications, and a number of « small but beautiful » livelihood projects have been implemented in water supply, health and education. These projects have not only brought tangible benefits to the lives of local people, but also actively promoted the African integration process, helped Africa build an efficient big market, and supported Africa to enhance the security of its industrial chain and connectivity of its value chain.

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 Beyond the economic aspect, China is also exporting its culture to the Continent (setting up a language center, visiting China). What is the goal?

A: « Amity between the people holds the key to state-to-state relations. » People-to-people connectivity is an important part of the Belt and Road

 

Initiative and the social foundation for advancing the Belt and Road Initiative. China has set up cultural centers in Africa and provided opportunities for African students to visit China. The main goal is to enhance mutual understanding between the Chinese and African people, consolidate the social foundation for win-win cooperation, and accumulate non-governmental strength for high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative, jointly achieve common prosperity and promote the building of a China-Africa community with a shared future. We will work hard to carry out more people-to-people and cultural exchanges with African countries, so as to pave a sunny road for China and Africa to win the hearts of the people and improve their lives.

 What can China say about “China has been the biggest hurdle as the co-chair of the Official Creditors Committee in resolving Zambia’s debt” and what can other developing countries in a similar situation learn from the process?

As the co-chair of Zambia’s Creditors Committee, China has made important contributions to Zambia’s debt disposal work. China will continue to maintain close communication and friendly consultation with Zambia and relevant parties and continue to play its role in the settlement of the Zambian debt issue. According to figures disclosed by Zambia’s Ministry of Finance, Western commercial creditors and multilateral financial institutions, which account for a relatively high proportion of Zambia’s external debt, should shoulder their responsibilities and take more vigorous action to alleviate Zambia’s debt burden. We believe that in dealing with the debt of Zambia and other developing countries, mutual understanding and trust among stakeholders is an important prerequisite for finding the best solution.

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