WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO


Wednesday, 17 January 2001 4p.m.
Working party on the accession of China
Formal meeting

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

150pxls.gif (76 bytes)
press releases
news archives
Mike Moore's speeches
Renato Ruggiero's speeches, 1995-99

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

1. I welcome you all to this formal meeting of the Working Party on China's accession to the WTO, which concludes the work we have been engaged in for the past week. As has been our tradition on these occasions, I would like to take this opportunity to offer to you my overall perception of where matters stand.

2. On earlier occasions, I have laid out quite clearly the task we have set ourselves. In brief, this is to address the total accession package of China in order to conclude these negotiations expeditiously. I have also spelt out on several occasions what this total package constitutes, and we all know full well that there is a great deal of substantive and technical work which lies ahead. Accordingly, there is a need to maintain, and indeed accelerate, the present momentum.

3. In addressing this total package, we have taken up the eight outstanding multilateral subjects remaining from the subject-by-subject testing process I have been conducting since November. This time again, we have continued the process, once again to encouraging results. Through this process, we have succeeded in circulating a multilaterally viable text in yet another important area: product specific safeguards. Progress has also been registered in other areas, i.e. NTM's and anti-dumping. Yet problems still remain. However, I believe they will rapidly fall into place once breakthroughs occur in other subjects which are of central political and trade concern to China and members.

4. And this brings me to an even more important development that has occurred during this week. For the first time a firm acknowledgement has emerged that it is time to focus attention on achieving political breakthroughs and texts in a collection of core areas. Some of these core areas are agriculture, industrial subsidies, TBT, trading rights, and services. Because of the inter-linkages involved, intensive consultations have been taking place with a view to achieving textual breakthroughs. I am sure that it was everyone's desire to see this session concluding these matters now. However, it is clear that more time is needed for capitals to adjust their positions and approach the issues afresh. As a result, we have no texts on these areas to discuss at this stage. This certainly should not be taken negatively. On the contrary, I am convinced that this development has brought us very close to the end. Indeed, this session marks a watershed in China's accession.

5. Our work has set a very clear road map for the future. As to procedure, I propose we continue with our present working methods, firstly taking up and concluding the outstanding plurilateral issues and then going on to clean up the draft Report and Protocol and its Annexes, as well as finalising the market access schedules in goods and services.

6. We should ensure that when we meet next we have all the necessary inputs available to at least conclude the substantive part of our negotiations. These inputs are both substantive and technical. On the substantive side, I am referring, of course, to texts that can serve as a basis for achieving the multilateral agreements we need, and also the conclusion of China's pending bilateral market access agreements with WTO Members. On the technical side too, there are inputs required by the Secretariat in order to assist us in rapidly finalising China's market access schedules in goods and services. I have been repeatedly bringing this matter to your attention. Timely action here would go a long way in helping us to conclude several of the outstanding plurilateral issues.

7. Overall, I feel that none of the outstanding problems are insurmountable. In each case the political decisions are now very clear and unambiguous. I consider that this session has been a successful one in sharply defining the political decisions needed.

8. I have also noted the determination of China and Members to carry forward the work with intensity and commitment. It is this that encourages me to say that we can look forward to another meeting of this Working Party in the not too distant future, possibly in late February or March 2001. The inputs I have just described will be essential to make this meeting a conclusive success. We shall be in close touch with delegations in respect of developments, and based on these consultations we will proceed to fix the timing and agenda of the next meeting of the Working Party.