Bo: WTO consensus worth celebrating
By Teddy Ng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-12-20 06:27

HONG KONG: The World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference has achieved some positive results, Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai said yesterday, but he urged rich nations to make greater concessions.

Chinese commerce minister Bo Xilai makes a statement during a conference of the sixth World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conferences at Hong Kong's Convention and Exhibition Centre December 14, 2005. [Reuters]
Speaking after the end of the conference in which ministers reached a last-minute, but modest, trade deal, Bo said it was worth celebrating since they had reached consensus on elimination of agricultural export subsidies by 2013 and on non-agricultural market access.

He said the consensus, which some ministers said had paved the way for completion of the Doha Round, was hard-won.

Bo said several clauses of the ministerial declaration were beneficial to China.

Bo said the adoption of the Swiss Formula to calculate tariff cuts when opening market access for non-agricultural products might not necessarily be detrimental to China.

Some non-governmental organizations suggested that the Swiss Formula, which means higher tariffs will see higher cuts, was not beneficial to developing countries.

He said the tariffs of some Chinese industrial products were competitive, and Chinese products might gain access to other markets.

However, Bo said the achievements of Hong Kong conference were not totally satisfactory, saying concessions made by rich nations were insufficient.

"Developed nations need to make more concessions to narrow the economic gap between the developed and developing world. The rich nations are not doing enough and we expect them to come up with more concrete ideas in future negotiations," he said.

Bo said China made a lot of significant promises when joining the WTO four years ago, including lowering the tariff for agricultural products and non-agricultural products by 70 and 80 per cent respectively, and slashing aggregate measure of support for agricultural products.

"Compared with the promises made by China four years ago, the concessions made by developed nations in this conference are very limited," he said.

"If European countries and the United States have the courage and spirit of China, and hold a responsible attitude, the agenda of the conference will be completed very early," he said.

Bo disagreed that China adopted a low-profile attitude in the conference, saying China needs to tackle the issues in a pragmatic and calm manner.

He said he was optimistic about the trade relationship between China, the EU countries and the US, though China might be in disagreement with these countries over certain products.

Bo estimated that China's gross domestic product would increase by over 9 per cent this year, and trade surplus is expected to increase.

(China Daily 12/20/2005 page2)

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