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China's WTO commitments on track
( 2003-12-10 23:56) (China Daily)

China should get a good mark for its performance on commitments it made to the World Trade Organization, said Sun Zhenyu, the Chinese ambassador to the WTO.

China has taken its commitments seriously since becoming a member of the world trade body two years ago and has greatly improved its transparency on foreign economic and trade policies.

"It is not an easy thing. But we have made great efforts to keep promises, including lowering the tariff rates, eliminating non-tariff measures, and relaxing limitations on foreign investments,'' Sun said.

China's average tariff rate on farm products was lowered to 16.8 per cent in 2003, far below the world average rate of 62 per cent, Sun said.

In addition, all non-tariff measures on farm products have been eliminated, Sun said.

"China even moved earlier in some areas when it realized its commitment in opening the service market,'' Sun added.

However, some foreign companies still have complaints about China's slow action.
"It is not strange. It is not because China did not keep its promises, but because foreign investors are too eager to enter the big market,'' said Zhang Hanlin, president of the China Institute for WTO Studies.

"If China did not stand by its commitments in commodity trade and service trade, how can its imports surge so fast?'' Zhang asked.

In the first 11 months, China's imports jumped 39.1 per cent to US$370.6 billion.
The trade surplus totalled US$19.7 billion in the first 11 months of the year, dropping by 27.6 per cent from the same period last year.

No country performs perfectly in accordance with its WTO promises, Zhang said, that is why there are so many disputes in the world trade body.

"China behaves well when comparing with other countries and its own past before it entered the WTO,'' Zhang said.

Ian Kay, executive general manager of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, said his organization is satisfied with China's progress in implementing its WTO commitments overall.

Since accession, China has implemented many of the prescribed changes as detailed in the Protocol on Accession, particularly in the area of tariff reductions and opening of the market, Kay said.He noted some of these even came ahead of time.

"This last year, China's gradual readiness to consult before implementing new regulations is another step forward in the opening-up process and is especially welcomed,'' Kay said.

The Chamber has an optimistic outlook on China and the implementation of its WTO commitments, he said.

But he added there are still concerns about the protection of intellectual property rights in China.

Zhang said the enforcement of IPR protection is complicated in China, but that the government is sincere in trying to improve the situation and many senior officials have vowed to facilitate work on protecting intellectual property issues for foreign-funded companies.

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