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Statement by Mr. Long Yongtu, Head of the Chinese Delegation at the Third Working Party Meeting on China's Accession to the WTO (March 6, 1997)
2004/04/19
Mr. Chairman,

It is a great pleasure for the Chinese delegation to be in Geneva again to attend the third meeting of the Working Party on China's Accession to the WTO. Since the second meeting last October, momentum moving the negotiation process forward has appeared. During this period, we hold a series of bilateral consultations with many WTO members in Beijing or in Geneva, especially in the last three days, the informal Working Party meeting has been working very intensively. We believe these consultations are constructive and productive. As a result, all of us agree that important progresses have been made in negotiation thanks to the political will to push forward this process as well as the flexible and pragmatic approach of many WTO members and China as reflected in the negotiation process. We express our appreciation to the members for the efforts they have made and we would like to express our special thanks to Ambassador Girard, Chairman of the meeting, for his important personal contribution to pushing forward the negotiation process.

Mr. Chairman,

I am very pleased to note that we have reached consensus on many sections of the draft texts of the Protocol during this meeting. The agreement on a few key sections has important significance for China's WTO accession. I would like to draw your special attention to the agreement on the section of Right to Trade. According to this agreement we have reached with members of the Working Party on this issue, China will grant all Chinese enterprises the rights to import and export after completing necessary legislative procedures during a transitional period and thus providing to all foreign business community an unprecedented opportunity to explore the huge market in China. It is a major step the Chinese government has taken in reforming its present trade regime, and this demonstrates the sincerity of the Chinese government to observe the international rules of the World Trade Organization. This commitment of liberalizing the right to trade also represents an important commitment of China to eliminate trade barriers and expand the market access. Some people said that this might be considered a revolution in the trade regime of China. It seems to me this is not an exaggeration considering the depth and the extensiveness of its impact on the reform of China's trading system. The elimination of the control of the trading rights is a big challenge to China. However, we are ready to face this challenge. The successful conclusion of this agreement as well as other important progress we made during this Working Party meeting clearly demonstrates the resolute determination of the Chinese government to continue the implementation of the policy of reform and opening to the outside world initiated by Mr. Deng Xiaoping. This policy is of decisive importance in accelerating the process of China's accession to the WTO.

In addition, we would fully implement the TRIPS Agreement upon our accession to the WTO.

Mr. Chairman,

In accordance with the arrangement of the previous Working Party meeting, and at the request of other members of this Working Party, we have updated and revised the 6 annexes to the draft protocol in a very limited time. During this Working Party meeting, we had useful discussions on these annexes. This documentation is important as they reflect various aspects of China's trade regime, such as state trading, non-tariff measures, state pricing, subsidies and export duties. We are willing to and ready to further discuss and improve these annexes. The final agreement on these annexes will be conducive to the accession of China into the WTO on the basis of a balance between its rights and obligations. In addition, the Chinese side also provided to the Secretariat large amount of materials and information regarding China's trade regime so as to further implement its obligation for transparency. All these demonstrate the will and sincerity of the Chinese government to meet the WTO obligations.

Mr. Chairman,

Here I would like to reiterate that China's WTO accession is a multilateral process. In the past week, we had bilateral negotiations with more than 10 members on market access. These consultations resulted in progress at different levels. In the following week after this Working Party meeting, we will continue to have bilateral consultations with other members. It is our will that any progress we made in bilateral talks will positively contribute and promote the entire multilateral process. China attaches importance to the role that each member plays in this multilateral process, and we are willing to meet with all the interested WTO members within this framework. We have noticed that members of this Working Party have expressed their support for an early accession of China into WTO and showed their flexible and pragmatic attitude in the consultations, for all these we are highly appreciated. In the meantime, we hope that members of the Working Party will join hands with us, to continue their efforts to promote this multilateral process at this crucial juncture.

Mr. Chairman,

It is needless to say that there are still many pending issues in our negotiations. However, we believe that the negotiations shall continue to achieve progress so long as we have the political will to resolve these issues without interference of other irrelevant factors. Let us continue to deal with the specific economic and trade issues in the negotiation in a pragmatic and flexible manner. We are confident to solve these problems, because we have seen a general consensus that China's early accession is in the interest of all WTO members. Now all the parties involved in negotiation come to realize that 1997 is a crucial year for China's accession to the WTO, and therefore the negotiations have come to an important stage. We will concentrate our efforts on the specific issues that have to be solved. We have finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel and the light seems becoming even brighter. We have no reason to stop or slow down our pace in this important process.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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