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CHINA AND THE WTO

Changing China, Changing World Trade

By Supachai Panitchpakdi and Mark L. Clifford

Wiley -- 251pp -- $21.95

Arguably the most significant development in international commerce last year was the entry of China into the World Trade Organization. In China and the WTO: Changing China, Changing World Trade, Asia Regional Editor Mark L. Clifford teams up with Thailand's former Deputy Prime Minister Supachai Panitchpakdi, who will become the WTO's director-general in September, to assess the impact that this will have on the world market and within China's borders.

For the most part, the authors believe that there will be enormous benefits--not the least of which is that the world's largest and fastest-growing emerging economy will now operate under internationally accepted rules. But they are careful not to downplay how dicey the situation could become. As China opens its market, foreign products could flood in, crippling already weak state and agricultural sectors and fomenting unrest.

Written in an accessible fashion, the book has chapters on why it took China 15 years to get into the WTO and on the effect its entry will likely have on economic reform at home. In a chapter called "The Asia Puzzle," the authors consider various possible consequences of WTO entry on China's neighbors. Will it make the region a more attractive place for foreign investment or will it "bolster the country's already formidable competitive position at the expense of the rest of the region"?

No doubt, the next few years will continue to be disruptive as China moves toward a market economy. But in the end, the authors agree that "it's China's people, and its economy, who will be the biggest winners."

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