China should show leadership in multilateral trade and work closely with big economies like the United States, the European Union and Japan to formulate a new global trade agenda, the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) said Friday.
As a bridge between emerging economies and developed countries, China should work with other big economies to establish a new global multilateral trade system, Director-General Pascal Lamy said in a speech at the opening ceremony of the 3rd Global Think Tank Summit held in Beijing.
Such a system would provide fairer market access opportunities for China and other countries and foster a more open and stable environment for job creation, Lamy said.
He urged for open trade while commenting on major regional free trade agreements like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which are currently being negotiated by many countries including China, the U.S. and Japan.
If those agreements cannot work in a coherent manner, they wouldn't effectively cope with trade barriers, especially non-tariff barriers, said Lamy, who noted that preferential trade agreements should merge with the multilateral trade mechanism.
Non-tariff measures such as the imposition of stricter safety and environmental standards on market access are more frequently used as trade barriers than tariffs, he said.
"Those barriers are more complex, less transparent, and more likely it might be abused," Lamy told global experts and policy advisers gathered at the summit.
He also called on China to initiate a new round of reforms to create new growth momentum, as the economic benefits brought by its accession to the WTO are dwindling.
"If someone asks me what are the most significant global events in the last 50 years, I would say the fall of the Berlin Wall and China joining the WTO," said Lamy.
Among the economic challenges China faces are trade frictions with other economies and some countries being inhospitable to Chinese investment, he said.
He suggested China merge its domestic reform with the multilateral trade and investment agenda, further open up the service sector and reach multilateral investment agreements with other countries to help promote its overseas investment.