Accession to the World Trade Organisation will cause a restructuring of China's labour market, the labour minister, Zhang Zuoji, said in an interview with Reuters. He said there would be redundancies in traditional industries such as farming and farm products, the car industry, electronics, banking and insurance. Officially, China has 5.5m registered unemployed and about 6m laid-off workers. Helping them to find work is one of the most important tasks of the Chinese government, he concluded, and it would also have to provide better social security, unemployment benefits and pensions.
On the positive side, membership of the WTO is likely to produce nearly 1m additional job opportunities in China. The prediction came from a detailed assessment of the impact of the WTO on the Chinese economy reported in Beijing Morning Post. Membership will increase China's economic growth rate by nearly 3 per cent and lead to the creation of some 12m new job opportunities, nearly half of which will be in the textile and clothing industries and a quarter in wholesale and retail distribution. Restructuring will bring nearly 11m job losses, of which the overwhelming majority will be in agriculture. The biggest industrial losers will be the motor and machinery industries.