China is committed to safeguarding the multilateral trade system since its gives enormous benefits to the least-developed countries (LDCs), Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen said in Cambodia on Monday. 
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the fifth China Round Table on WTO Accession, Wang said the world is faced with anti-globalization sentiment, populism and growing protectionist forces. 

He added that in the context of sluggish global trade growth and inward-looking trade policies by some major players, WTO members should firmly stick to multilateralism and uphold the primacy of the WTO in trade liberalization. 

"As WTO members, we must continue to reiterate our strong commitment to the multilateral trading system," he said at the ceremony that was attended by Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and LDCs and WTO representatives. 

"China is committed to safeguarding a multilateral trading system that is open, transparent, inclusive and beneficial to all," he said. 

Wang said evidence shows that LDCs have benefited from the multilateral trading system in their economic and trade development. 

"The multilateral trading system, as embodied by the WTO, plays an important role in poverty alleviation, trade growth and the economic development of the LDCs," he said. 

There are currently 48 LDCs on the UN list, 36 of which have become WTO members. 

According to Wang, since the establishment of WTO in 1995, nine LDCs have joined the organization in accordance with Article XII of the WTO Agreement. 

From 1995 to 2015, the exports of LDC WTO members increased from $15.2 billion to $139.3 billion with an annual growth rate of 11.7 percent, he said.

Over the same period, the combined GDPs of LDC WTO members rose from $87.5 billion to $655.2 billion, with an annual growth rate of 10.6 percent. 

"Nonetheless, there is still a long way to go for the LDCs to better integrate into the multilateral trading system," he said. 

The LDCs represented more than one-fifth of the WTO membership in terms of number, but only took up less than 1 percent of global trade, he said. 

"As a close friend of the LDCs, China has made every effort within its capacity to support the LDCs' development," he said. 

On the trade front, China has provided duty-free treatment for 97 percent of the tariff lines originating from 35 LDCs, he said, adding that China has been the world's largest market for LDCs' products over the past eight years.

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