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Statement by H.E. Mr. Long Yongtu at the Second Working Party Meeting on China's Accession to the WTO (Nov.1, 1996, Geneva)

Mr. Chairman,

I am very happy to lead the Chinese delegation to attend the Second Working Party meeting on China's accession to the WTO. The Chinese government attaches great importance to this meeting and has sent the largest delegation since December 1994. Since last March, the Chinese side, in line with the requirement of the first Working Party meeting, has done a great deal of work in preparing the six annexes to the Protocol. These annexes present detailed descriptions of China's foreign trade regime and contain some new offers of China. This is one of the substantive actions of China to accelerate the negotiation process. In the informal consultations during the past two days, the detailed discussions on the Annexes to the Protocol ahs been proved useful to advance the negotiation process. The discussions, though still different from time to time, but the tone, the approach and the atmosphere have been changed. We consider these positive and encouraging. And in the bilateral consultations this week and the next week, our delegation have and will exchange views in all aspects of market access with WTO members concerned. We hope that these consultations will make positive contribution to the deliberation for this Working Party.

Mr. Chairman, since the First Working Party meeting last March, China has adopted a series of measures in improving its market economic system and expanding the opening of its market. We lowered tariff rates of nearly 5,000 products, eliminated NTMs of more than 100 products, unified the foreign currency market to ensure national treatment for foreign invested enterprises in this regard, announced the free conversion of RMB under current account by the end of this year and eliminated some duty exemption polices in a bid to ensure the uniformed application of foreign trade policies.

China's efforts to participate the multilateral trading system have been broadly recognized by the international community. Since the beginning of this year, political leaders of many countries have expressed their personal concerns on China's accession to the WTO, and have showed their support for the early conclusion of the negotiation. This fully demonstrates that more and more countries have realized the importance of China's accession to the multilateral trading system. We believe that the political support from high level leaders of many countries is very important to tthe progress of the international negotiation of China's accession. We highly appreciate such support and we are ready to make positive responses.

In order to ensure future negotiations to be carried out on a stable basis and to demonstrate China's sincerity to accelerate the negotiation, we hereby announce the decision of the Chinese government to undertake the principle of standstill , and commit ourselves that China will not promulgate new laws and policies inconsistent with the WTO rules during the negotiation process. And in that spirit, we sincerely hope that the WTO members, will not raise the threshold and increase trade restrictions against China at the meantime. We believe, should every party abide by this principle, we have a better chance to reach agreement at an earlier date.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to reiterate our position that the negotiation of China's accession to WTO is a multilateral process, and all WTO members are our equal partner both in trade and in negotiations. Since last June, China has carried out bilateral consultations with some members of the Working Party. Such consultations are integral parts of this multilateral process. We will keep all Working Party members informed of the progress of these bilateral consultations in a timely manner, so as to ensure the transparency of the entire multilateral negotiation and facilitate the accurate assessment to the negotiation by all parties concerned.

Mr. Chairman, China's early participation into the rule-based World Trade Organization and the gradual opening of its market are in the interests of China as well as in the interests of all WTO members. I believe that we have this consensus within the Working Party. We should work harder to find a balanced point acceptable to every party regarding the pace and mode of how China will gradually open wider its market.

We have seen some momentum in China's accession negotiation. We hope that all the parties concerned will continue to take a flexible and pragmatic attitude, show imagination and creativity. We believe that there is now a better opportunity for us to finally reach a package of agreements on the Protocol and market access through substantive negotiations.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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