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China looks for substantive progress in WTO meeting
Updated: 2005-12-11 10:06

BEIJING, December 11 (Xinhua) -- China looks to the World Trade Organization (WTO) talks to achieve substantive progress as the Hong Kong meeting approaching.

"China firmly supports the WTO talks on the Doha Development Agenda, hoping the imminent Hong Kong meeting will achieve substantive progress," said Zhang Xiangchen, director of the Department for WTO Affairs under the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).

China hopes this round of talks will end by 2006 as scheduled and that the Hong Kong meeting will get "early harvest" in areas where the members have reached broad consensus, Zhang said.

The sixth WTO's ministerial meeting, the international organization's top decision-making body, is scheduled from December13 to 18 in Hong Kong.

The Doha Development Agenda was kicked off as a new round of talks to liberalize trade in November 2001 during a WTO members' meeting in the Qatari capital, Doha.

The original aim of the Doha Round was to conclude a treaty by January 1, 2005, but now the members hope to make it by the end of 2006.

An impasse over farm trade is believed to be the crux of the Doha Round talks, according to analysts.

Developing countries want developed countries, including European Union, the United States and Japan to cut down their farm subsidies and import tariffs.

However, the latter are unwilling to do so in the excuse that their governments are faced with great pressure from domestic agricultural organizations.

Meanwhile, the developed countries demand the developing ones to cut tariff on manufactured goods and to open up service sectors to wider international competition.

In early November, the WTO Director General Pascal Lamy proposed a readjustment of vested goals, essentially a tune-down, for the upcoming WTO's ministerial conference because progress at the moment was insufficient to produce a package that could comprehensively address all major issues in the Doha Round.

Is it a time that the 148 members of WTO have to take a cold-eyed perspective at what can realistically be achieved in Hong Kong?
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