Trade Associations: China’s Membership in WTO and Co

Trade Associations: China’s Membership in WTO and Co


Trade associations go further than trade agreements and provide the infrastructure for the introduction of regulations and their enforcement. Due to its strong export orientation, China joined the globally most important trade associations relatively early and consequently had to adapt to their standards.

Article Highlights

  • The World Trade Organization is the key trade association and has the most far-reaching regulations.
  • China is still considered a non-market economy in the WTO, which has significant disadvantages.
  • The International Trade Center and the World Customs Organization are also about important but more technical aspects of trade.

When China’s GDP became increasingly reliant on exports, the country also became more dependable on being open to trading with many countries across the globe. Through being a member of an association of trade it allows for easier implementation for rules and regulations to help China world trade. Furthermore, it makes the introduction of multilateral trade agreements easier.

Regional Associations

Countries often work together through economic and political association to help accelerate economic growth. Such clubs benefit all through serving through deputizing rights to on central organization to offer guidelines and acts as arbiter during disputes. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a perfect example.

Formed up of ten Southeast Asian countries, ASEAN collaborates on a broad range of free trade initiatives. In 2013 ASEAN members started negotiations to implement the Regional Comprehensive Partnership Agreement with the goal of forming free trade agreements with 6 nearby countries: China, New Zealand, Australia, India, Japan and South Korea. A looser cooperation (and seemingly more ambitious) group is the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC), which includes both China and America.


APEC as China world trade connection to pacific countries.
The APEC is only a loose association of countries to discuss economic issues – not comparable to the WTO.


A Global Association: China World Trade

One larger organization with similar objectives is the World Trade Organization (WTO) which consists of 162 countries all working together to achieve trade negotiations. Despite China WTO membership in 2001, they initially were not willing to join due to the negative aspects that can arise from joining. If any disagreements arise from the negotiation of China’s access to the Western market and vice versa, the WTO’s dispute procedure can be used to help resolve potential issues. By adopting all the WTO rules and regulations, China is legally bound to abide by them. If China feels the WTO does not necessarily represent their own best interests, by being a member it could negatively affect them.

Despite fears, since China WTO accession in 2001, both China and the West benefited greatly. By China joining the WTO it saw an end to quotas imposed—opening up Western markets while foreign companies were given greater access to China’s world trade. Interestingly, China is still considered as a non-market economy in WTO terms, which has some significant disadvantages particularly with respect to litigations. A status change for being recognized as a market economy is desired by China for quite some time.


For the US, China world trade ambitions are a rivalry.
Particularly for the US and China, trade associations imply geopolitical aspects of power.


The International Trade Centre

One (often overlooked) organization is the International Trade Centre (ITC) which bridges the gap between the WTO and UN by focusing on improving the internationalization of SME as well as fostering trade development. By offering market information and tools, it allows for analysis of the climate in other countries helping you to identify opportunities.

The comprehensive analysis covers many different aspects, from the export growth, trade maps, infrastructure statistics, trade development and strategies and many more. The ITC uses its position to collect information and provide global intelligence on trade to allow for a stronger global economy. China world trade is part of the ITC, which makes it extremely useful for outside companies to take advantage of resources ITC has to offer before determining if it is suitable to take advantage of China world trade.

China and the World Customs Organization

The World Customs Organization (WCO) is another trade association of trade of which China is a member. In relation to China, the WCO helps members develop reasonable methods to collect and store information related to China world trade, which facilitates customs procedures. In particular, this trade association helps revenue collection, security, trade facilitation, community protection and collecting trade statistics. By being an international intergovernmental organization, the WCO is able to govern trade between countries while ensuring secure trade.