WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Angus King (I-Maine) today reintroduced a resolution that confronts China’s self-designation status as a developing country at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The resolution states that the WTO should reform its special and differential treatment rules so globally competitive countries, such as the People’s Republic of China, are not able to self-designate as a developing country in order to gain unfair trade advantages.
“China, which has the world’s second-largest economy after the United States, should not be able to self-designate as a developing country to gain unfair trade advantages, especially as the Chinese Communist Party takes advantage of actual developing countries through the predatory lending of the Belt and Road Initiative,” said Thune. “This designation intentionally misidentifies China’s economic stature, undermines countries that are truly developing, and erodes trust in the rules-based trading system. Meaningful reforms at the WTO need to be made, and reserving special treatment for truly developing countries would be a good start.”
“China calling itself a ‘developing nation’ – while having the world’s second-largest economy – is a ridiculous economic fraud,” said King. “This preposterous self-designation is yet another example of China abusing well-intended economic guidelines at the expense of American businesses and the rest of the world. The World Trade Organization must change their rules to stop China from receiving special treatment that it doesn’t deserve.”
Under the WTO, developing countries can receive special and differential treatment, which includes weaker market access commitments and longer timeframes for implementing agreements. Since the WTO does not define “developed” or “developing,” member countries self-declare their development status. When China entered the WTO in 2001, its true development status at the time was vastly different than it is in 2023. Today, China has the world’s second-largest economy, and the World Bank categorizes China as an upper-middle-income country. In addition, China is a major source of foreign direct investment and provides billions of dollars for cross-border infrastructure through the Belt and Road Initiative and other geo-economic projects around the world.