It's nearly 16 years since China's joined the World Trade Organization. With tough transitional challenges ahead and painstaking adjustments behind, China has risen to become a bellwether of global free trade and an advocate of globalization as a whole.
China's full opening up was marked by its accession to the WTO in 2001. Since this monumental event, trade volume has jumped from 500 billion US dollars to 4.5 trillion dollars. That's a nine-fold increase from 2001 to 2016. And China has also become the biggest export country from a sixth place ranking in 2001. China's commitments to join the WTO were all fulfilled. The country carried out unprecedented law reviews and clean-up, making China's market access conditions more transparent and standardized.
Eventually China amended 325 national trade laws covering goods, services, intellectual property, investment and other sectors. 830 such laws were abolished. In total, more than 92,300 laws and regulations at the national and local levels were reviewed. China cut its import tariffs from an average of 15.3% in 2001 to 9.8% in 2010, in accordance with WTO rules. Some products have seen the most dramatic drops. For example, the car tariff used to be as high as 100%, it's now been reduced to 25%. Average wine tariffs fell from about 120% to about 14%. Some say only China benefited from international trade. Not exactly. China has been buying more foreign products since 2001, contributing a lot to international trade. In its first 6 years after joining, imports increased by over 30% each year, that's a 100 billion dollar increase annually.
China in recent years has also been very active in the global economy. It firmly supports globalization and is against trade protectionism. It has been an important member of the BRICS emerging economies mechanism. The Belt and Road Initiative is the latest in China's global integration efforts. Nearly 70 countries have signed up to be part of the ambitious development strategy, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, also initiated by China, is the financial institution funding this.
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