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Geneva, 28 September 2000

Twelfth Session of the Working Party on China

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

Mr. Chairman,

I am pleased to lead the Chinese Delegation to the twelfth session of the Working Party on China and to continue the discussions on the Draft Protocol and the Draft Working Party Report with the Working Party members.

With the signing of the bilateral agreement between China and Switzerland on 26 September, the bilateral negotiations on China's WTO accession have largely come to an end. Since the beginning of this year, we have intensified our work on the drafting of various legal instruments on China's accession, which marks the transition of the focus of China's accession to the multilateral process of this negotiations in the final stage. In view of the fact that the legal instruments drafted by the Working Party will summarize the process of China's GATT assumption and WTO accession in the past 14 years and will make a comprehensive record of China's rights and obligations in WTO, the Chinese Delegation have attached great importance to it and will work conscientiously with other members of the Working Party to accomplish this important work in the spirit of consultations on equal basis. During this session, China has submitted the consolidated tariff schedule. We hope that the parities concerned will begin the verifications as soon as possible and we are ready to conduct technical clarifications with the Members concerned.

Mr. Chairman,
I agree to your summary and assessment on the result of this session. We have continued to make some important progress this time. Of course, differences still remain in the drafting of these legal instruments which require a large amount of work. In this connection, I would like to share with you China's positions on some important issues in order to facilitate the future work:

First, on the relation between the multilateral negotiations and the implementation of bilateral agreement. As for all the commitments made in the bilateral negotiations, China will strictly abide by and implement in a faithful manner. At the same time, however, China requests the parities concerned to respect the results of bilateral negotiations in the same spirit. Since bilateral agreements have already contained detailed provisions on implementation, for instance, there are detailed provisions on the administration of TRQs. The relevant WTO Agreements, such as the Agreement on Import Licensing, also contain provisions on administration procedures. It is inappropriate and unnecessary to invent a new set of rules specifically for China. We would find difficult to accept new requests on the excuse of ensuring the implementation of the agreements. We believe that this is in fact an attempt to re-open negotiation on the bilateral agreements already signed. China has made its utmost efforts in the bilateral negotiations in the past. Many negotiations were painstaking and the agreements reached are complicated and were the reflection of interests of various parties in a balanced manner. It is impossible now for China to make commitments on market access beyond those contained in the bilateral agreements.

In the final analysis, the issue of implementation is a question of mutual trust. If there is a lack of mutual confidence, the provisions are of no use, no matter how detailed they are.

Secondly, on the contents of multilateral legal instruments. The Draft Working Party Report is the collection and outline of the negotiations in the past 14 years. There will be reasonable and necessary clarifications and explanations on the relevant issues in the negotiations. Every party, however, should not pose new requests at this stage, or attempt to include the contents which have never been negotiated in the past 14 years. This could only make things complicated. Every party has the right to express its viewpoints in the Draft Working Party Report, but should not impose its views on others and should not insert discriminatory and inappropriate language to the acceding parties. The contents and language of the Repot should be fair, balanced and accurate.

Thirdly, on the timing of concluding the negotiations. During the last session of the Working Party, some members expressed their support on China's WTO accession this year. We support this timeframe and are willing to make positive efforts to achieve that goal. Of course, we care not only the specific timing of accession, but also the terms of accession. What is important is that the results of the negotiations shall on the whole ensure China’s accession is based on the balance between rights and obligations. We can not accept provisions which are detrimental to China's legitimate rights under WTO. Judging from the current situations, China’s accession is only a matter of time. If China's accession process is further delayed, the party to be harmed most is the business communities of the WTO Members. We have been requested to grant immediate market access opportunities in the bilateral negotiations. Now, the market access opportunities are close within reach, the early accession of China is conducive to Chinese and foreign enterprises to operate in a stable and predictable legal environment, and enjoy the significant commercial benefit to be brought about by the market access commitments of China.

Mr. Chairman,
At this final stage of negotiations, the mutual understanding and cooperation between various parties are of vital importance. China is willing to straighten its cooperation with various parties and will make concerted efforts for the realization of China's accession to the WTO this year.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.