The government traditionally has decided the composition of China’s foreign trade.
However, since the initiation of reforms in 1978, increasing numbers of private partnerships have developed, and trade is primarily dictated by the marketplace. After years of disagreement over trade practices with its largest export partner, the United States, China agreed to a range of economic reforms designed to open Chinese markets to private and foreign investment.
Subsequently, the U.S. Congress granted China permanent most-favorednation status in 2000. In 2001 China acceded to the World Trade Organization.
As a result of its efforts in the global marketplace, by 2004 China had become the world’s third largest trading power behind the United States and Germany.