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Vice-premier lauds US halt of farm subsidies
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-02-13 00:39

A recent US proposal to eliminate agricultural export subsidies by a certain date, in a bid to push the stalled global trade talks, got a positive response from China.

China, which become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in late 2001, also expressed concern over whether new members will be granted special treatment in the new round of talks.

Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi said she appreciated the proposal during a meeting with US Trade Representative States Robert Zoellick yesterday in Beijing.

Wu said the agricultural issue is key and vital to the new round of multilateral trade talks, and that the US proposal is "constructive."

The US proposals were made by Zoellick last month in a letter to his 146 WTO ministerial colleagues, after the ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico for negotiations of Doha Agenda Development collapsed last September.

Zoellick made a number of proposals on negotiations concerning agriculture, goods and services.

Wu told Zoellick that China supports a return to normal discussions as early as possible, and has worked vigorously for that.

"We think that the early conclusion of a package of win-win agreements from the new round would serve not only the interests of the organization's developed members, but also the developing members," Wu said.

She stressed that new members of the WTO like China enjoy a special status in the new round, and should be granted special and deferential treatment.

Vice-Minister of Commerce Yu Guangzhou also spoke of those concerns when talking with Zoellick.

"China has promised a wide and substantial opening when it entered the WTO in December 2001,'' Yu said. "It is impossible for us to offer a new round of market opening under the Doha Agenda."

According to Yu, China has strictly implemented its pledges made in its accession to as a new and developing member of the WTO, and contributed to the multilateral trading system of the world.

Zoellick said the United States and China will share a similar stance on the new round of talks, since many interests of both sides overlap, and added that China's active participation would help push forward the trade talks.

He also commented that this meeting has been very "productive" and should start further consultations.

Zoellick arrived in Beijing Wednesday night following his trip to Tokyo. He will also visit Singapore and South Asia, Africa and Europe.

Zoellick also formally invited Wu to attend the 15th session of the Sino-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), which is set to be held in the United States in April this year.

Zoellick and US Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans are the co-chairmen of the US side of the JCCT, while Wu represents the Chinese side.

Trade between China and the United States reached a historic high of US$126.3 billion in 2003, despite disputes over issues such as anti-dumping and trade imbalances.

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