Chapter 31 of China NTCs deals with the protection of consumers in an Asian perspective.

Chapter 31 of the book “China´s Influence on Non-Trade Concerns in International Economic Law” deals with the protection of consumers, with a particular focus on Asian dynamics. The author highlights how consumers have different legal protection depending on the country they live in. He especially stresses once again the dichotomy between developed and developing countries. It seems clear that consumers in developing countries have usually a lower protection. This happens because social, economic, political, and legal issues undermine the protection of consumers. Professor Prasad firstly analyzes the problems faced in developing countries in relation to consumers with particular attention for non-trade issues. A central issue presented in this section is poverty; consumers in developing countries are not economically strong enough to assert their rights. Poverty deprives the developing world’s consumers of free choice and forces them to accept unfair conditions. Another issue, partially linked to poverty, is represented by access to justice, in the sense of “improving the availability of fair, efficient, and meaningful justice for all courts users.” The author then considers global trade and consumer interests in developing countries with special reference to India and China. He highlights that “[t]here is a broad consensus that consumers should welcome competition – in a competitive environment, firms are compelled not only to produce desirable goods and services in the most efficient manner, but also to allocate them at the right quality and price if they are to survive. Competition policy is therefore of benefit to consumers in promoting competitive or ‘fair’ markets […].” The benefits of globalization outdo the disadvantages, and now nearly all countries favor global trade via the WTO. On the recent occasion marking China’s ten years of accession to the WTO, Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the WTO remarked that “China has been and should remain important for the WTO. The WTO has been and should remain important for China.” Trade growth and consumers’ interests are inseparable in the sense that increased trade strengthens the economy, and a robust economy enables the people (consumers) to acquire comfortable living conditions. Effective economic policies, impressive trade growth, and a strong legal framework mark a nation’s well-being. All three factors characterize the economies of India and China, and, having gained the strength to confront global economic challenges, they now have the responsibility to strive for an international legal framework, with the support of international institutions, that protects the interests of global consumers. The third part of the article deals with the legislative attempts of various Asian countries to protect consumers’ interests. The fourth and final part explores consumer protection through the Indian experience, which triggered a new legal revolution in India with informal dispute resolution. In this paper, Professor Simpson foresees the geopolitical impacts of China as an agricultural superpower, and assesses the food security (defined as ‘the ability to feed itself’) issues within its borders. The reasons of concern are self-evident: the nation’s population is projected to grow to 1.44 billion in 2020, and 1.48 billion in 2030. It will begin to decline after that. Quite paradoxically, it is submitted that despite this huge human population growth (and changes in diet, as well), China will be able to raise self-sufficiently animal products and other foods for humans. It is stressed that China’s agricultural sector has improved dramatically along with its general economy and it is projected that it will achieve superpower status as the nation turns into a fully economically developed country. The key question asked here is: how China will employ its agricultural power for achieving the calls for “balance” in agricultural trade by food importers? As to the animal productivity improvement, China’s has experienced a remarkable growth in livestock product production, and it is expected to continue it for the future, benefiting from the adoption of nationally developed technology and structural changes. This projection depends on a good understanding of its agricultural structure, acknowledging that China’s industry is very dynamic and not a static one. In this paper, the Authors assesses also China’s land use, crop production and trade, and energy issues, all relevant for the topic addressed. Suffice it to say that Monsanto projects doubling of corn and soybean yields by 2030, and China – as a leader in biotechnology – has currently a wide range of genetically modified crops awaiting government approval. Referring to the obligation of China, in its capacity of a superpower, the crucial issues here are part of the larger controversy over management of globalization so that domestic and international social and political stability will be improved. As the Author points out, in this scenario, agricultural trade can be viewed as the “philosophical heart of the matter.” It is emphasized that the excesses of globalization regarding food and agriculture can be managed only by paying adequate attention to what are termed “Non-Trade Concerns” (NTCs), and those concerns then taken into account in regional and bilateral negotiations as well as international ones. A parallelism is drawn with Japan. Likewise, China has to recognize its obligations for fair and equitable treatment of trade partners, because economic efficiency - ethically and legally - should be balanced against other values. As a conclusion, it is stressed that food and agricultural commodities are not immune to use as weapons, deterrents and threats in policy application. In fact, China will increasingly have the power to influence trade decisions and use that power as it develops economically. The real solution to its obligations as an agricultural superpower is to fight for the right of all countries to identify “special” and “sensitive” commodities to protect their agricultural and food security. China’s economic and social development confer on it the obligation to accept leadership in assuring that globalization will bring well-beings for all people.