One Stone, Two Birds: Can China Leverage WTO Accession to Build the BRI?

Journal of World Trade, Vol. 55, No. 2, 04.2021, p. 287-308

22 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2023 Last revised: 13 Feb 2023

See all articles by Jamieson M. Kirkwood

Jamieson M. Kirkwood

National University of Singapore Faculty of Law

Julien Chaisse

City University of Hong Kong (CityU) - Centre for Chinese & Comparative Law

Date Written: September 1, 2021

Abstract

The efficacy of the World Trade Organization (WTO), as an international forum seeking to provide a uniform platform to Member States for bilateral and multilateral negotiations and further the spirit of a new international economic legal order, is challenged constantly. This article explains how China is using the WTO accession process to leverage its domestic interests towards the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) to obtain greater commitments from existing and potential BRI nations. It is shown that after the BRI’s official establishment in 2013, China’s trade commitments from potential accession countries are becoming more pronounced, with increasing and sometimes onerous expectations of the acceding countries, due to the lack of any standard format for bilateral accession protocols. WTO law is increasingly part of BRI hard law governance practices, suggesting encroachment of BRI disputes within the WTO dispute settlement framework to establish a novel approach to dispute resolution. Since rules-based trade practices are needed, Member States should not adopt accession protocols that are either too rigid or too flexible, thereby creating glaring loopholes to be misused. WTO’s overall objective of furthering trade liberalization can be achieved only by keeping track of techniques adopted by developed countries when negotiating with developing and least developed countries such that potential members are not discouraged from joining the new economic order from the outset.

Keywords: BRI, Belt and Road Initiative, WTO, accession, SCM agreement, subsidies, services, telecommunications, trade-related investment measures, LDC Guidelines

Suggested Citation

Kirkwood, Jamieson and Chaisse, Julien, One Stone, Two Birds: Can China Leverage WTO Accession to Build the BRI? (September 1, 2021). Journal of World Trade, Vol. 55, No. 2, 04.2021, p. 287-308, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4344503

Jamieson Kirkwood

National University of Singapore Faculty of Law ( email )

469G Bukit Timah Road
Singapore, 259776
Singapore

Julien Chaisse (Contact Author)

City University of Hong Kong (CityU) - Centre for Chinese & Comparative Law ( email )

83 Tat Chee Avenue
Room P5300, 5th Floor, Academic 1
Kowloon Tong
Hong Kong
(852) 3442 8008 (Phone)
(852) 3442 0190 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.cityu.edu.hk/slw/people/people_chaisse_julien.html

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