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Geneva, Wednesday 17 January 2001
Fifteenth session of the Working Party on China

Statement by H.E. Vice Minister LONG Yongtu, Head of the Chinese Delegation

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> Chairman's note : WTO Deputy Director-General Paul-Henri Ravier



Mr. Chairman,

I am pleased to come to Geneva at the beginning of the New Century together with my fellow colleagues of the Chinese Delegation to participate the Fifteenth Session of the Working Party on China's Accession to the WTO and to continue the discussions with the Working Party members on the outstanding issues in the multilateral process of China's WTO accession.

First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Acting Chairman of the Working Party and WTO Deputy Director-General, Mr. Ravier, for your excellent organizing and coordinating work. My gratitude also goes to the Chairmen of the plurilateral groups and the Secretariat for your contributions to the negotiations.

Mr. Chairman,

Thanks to the joint efforts made by all parties concerned, significant progress on some outstanding issues has been made during this Session. For instance, consensus has been reached on the texts on anti-dumping and product-specific safeguard provisions. As for the other difficult issues, we have conducted serious and candid consultations with relevant WTO Members at bilateral and multilateral levels. As a result, we have focused our discussions on the issues of differences and identified efforts needed for resolving these issues. In a word, to quote the remarks made by an EU representative who has played an important role in the negotiations, “the package agreement is very very closer”.

Mr. Chairman,

China's GATT/WTO accession negotiations has entered into the fifteenth year. Like all the major trade negotiations, the negotiations tend to become more difficult when they are approaching the final end which requires the parties concerned to demonstrate full confidence and mutual trust and to show adequate courage and decision. We Chinese are famous for our patience. My delegation will continue these negotiations with patience and perseverance. China's WTO accession is conducive to China's economic development as well as to the strengthening of the multilateral trading system. These are the sources of our patience and perseverance.

It's regretful that we could not reach a package agreement due to one or two major issues. But the Chinese delegation firmly believe that the positions we insist on are correct and are supported by the majority of the WTO Members.

With regard to agriculture, China has a total agricultural population of 900 million. Therefore, to ensure the stability of agriculture is of utmost importance to China's social stability and economic development. It is a undisputed fact that China's agriculture is featured by inferior natural endowments, inefficiency of labor force and backward technology. China is willing to promote restructuring in this sector and to participate in international competition through opening the market of agricultural products. However, the Chinese government needs to maintain WTO-consistent agricultural support measures after its accession to the WTO. The interests of the 900 millions farmers will always be always our top priority.

China has made its efforts and concessions in the market access negotiations in agriculture. China has committed to deeply cut the tariffs of agricultural products and has committed sufficient tariff quota quantities for such important agricultural products as grains, cotton, vegetable oil and sugar, and will apply a tariff quota administration system which is open, transparent and reflecting market conditions after accession. At the same time, China has committed not to introduce export subsidies of trade-distorting effect. Even the majority of the developed countries have not yet done so and this effort also demonstrates the enormous flexibility of China for moving negotiations forward. However, the precondition for this commitment is that China can not be deprived of the rights of invoking developing countries provisions with regard to domestic support.

At the beginning of this Session, all parties concerned have agreed to take a package approach which has been proved correct by facts. A package solution is the only means to balance and reflect the interests of all parties concerned. However, there are also risks in a package approach. Disagreement on one issue may result in the failure of the whole package. During this session, all parties concerned have made sincere efforts to reach this goal. I hereby would like to express my gratitude to the efforts made by the EU delegation in this regard. China is still willing to continue the negotiations on a balanced and package basis in the future. At the same time, I want to urge relevant countries to make political decisions on the basis of taking into full consideration of the realistic possibilities of China's economic development level and market supervising capability so as to pave the way for a final package agreement.

Mr. Chairman,

The history of the past 20 years has proved that China's reform and opening-up are conducive to the healthy and rapid development of China's economy and has also injected vigor into the global economy. No matter when it accedes to the WTO, China will reduce its tariff level, gradually eliminate non-tariff measures and adopt more open, transparent, simple and market-oriented trade administration measures in light of the need of its economic development.

President Jiang Zemin solemnly committed at the Fourth APEC Leaders Summit in 1996 that China would reduce its tariff level to around 15% in 2000. To that end, China has once again taken the initiative to reduce its tariff level on January 1 after five times of tariff reductions since 1992. After the reduction, the tariff level of China has been reduced from 16.4% to 15.3%, which includes tariff reductions on 3462 tariff lines with an average reduction level of 6.6%, accounting for 49% of China's total tariff lines. With this action, China has made its contributions to the global trade liberalization.

China is looking forward to its early accession to the WTO, by that time, China will be able to start the implementation of our commitments made in the WTO negotiations and enable the WTO Members to benefit the significant commitment of China's market opening.

Mr. Chairman,

I sincerely hope that when we meet in Geneva next time, all WTO Members will be fully prepared to finally realize the common objective of China's accession to the WTO.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.