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Experts: China's fulfillment of WTO commitments positive
( 2003-12-11 23:30) (China Daily)

China has stood by its commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the past two years, but much work remains to be done, said Chinese Minister of Commerce Lu Fuyan.

The country still needs to fulfil more promises it made in the coming years as the transitional period comes to an end and local industries feel the pinch from China's entry into the WTO, Lu said.

"More challenges are waiting for China,'' Lu said.

WTO rules indicate that in the third year of the transition period, China should grant foreign trading rights to companies where foreign investors hold majority share.

China is also asked to eliminate licensing management on products such as oil, rubber and automobiles.

The service sector, which includes telecom, construction and distribution, will open wider to foreign companies.

Some limitations on location and proportion of foreign investment will be lifted in insurance and banking sectors.

Lu said to do this, local industries should spruce up to increase their competitiveness.

It has also been recommended that the process of opening areas to domestic investors before foreign players enter be accelerated.

Domestic companies in key sectors such as finance, agriculture, automotive, textile and information technology are asked to make more preparations for challenges from foreign competitors, Lu said.

The minister of commerce also mentioned the swelling threat on Chinese exports expected next year since they are subject to rising anti-dumping and safeguard measures.

The increasing protectionist behaviour came along with China's WTO entry. In the past two years, a total of 112 anti-dumping and safeguard investigations targetted Chinese products, coupled with strict inspection standards.

"We should do more to combat protectionism by using WTO rules,'' Lu said.

By fulfilling its promises to the world trade body, China opened more markets and increased its imports greatly, which provides enormous business opportunities for the world, Lu said.

He said China's opening of the farm product market, for instance, was ahead of other WTO members.

Benefiting from lower tariffs and the elimination of non-tariff measures, farm imports to China jumped 76.3 per cent to US$12.44 billion in the first three quarters of the year.

China's average duties on industrial products were also cut from 14.7 per cent before WTO entry to 10.3 per cent this year.

As a result, China imported 13,000 units of automobiles in the first three quarters, rising 40.5 per cent.

China also moved ahead in the opening of insurance and tourism service markets, Lu said.

Wolfgang Veit, professor of International Economics at the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne, Germany, terms China's two year efforts to fulfil its WTO commitments as "positive.''

Another German researcher, Tobias Stoll, managing director of the Institute of International Law, University of Goettingen, said China has improved its legal framework by revising and repealing a batch of national and local laws and regulations that went against WTO rules.

Experts also want China to quicken its pace in opening up trading rights and strengthening the protection of intellectual property rights.

They made the remarks at the European Union-China programme for China's Accession to the WTO Closing Conference held Thursday.

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