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

The MOFCOM official Zhang acknowledged it as pragmatic to set a lower expectation for the Hong Kong session, however he encouraged the WTO members to keep their ambition in promoting the Doha-Round negotiations.

"All members try to consolidate what they have achieved in previous talks, and at the same time, press forward in a step-by-step manner." said Cheng Guoqiang, researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council.

Yet no one will put the cards on the table until the last minute, he noted.

According to an analysis released by the World Bank, if the Doha round negotiations can meet its goals, the total returns on global trade is likely to increase by 300 billion US dollars.

It is estimated that of the 8 trillion US dollars world trade volume, only a small portion of 700 billion were on agricultural products with high tariff rates. But there is great potential for increasing returns through a cut of tariffs.

At present, the world average tariff rate levied on agricultural products is 62 percent. The rate is even set at 700 percent to 900 percent for some products in certain members such as rice in Japan.

China's average rate of tariffs stays at 15.3 percent, a comparatively low level. Only four members adopted lower rates than China.

According to sources with the Ministry of Commerce, China supports to urge the developed countries to substantially reduce all kinds of domestic support that distort the global trade and to call off their export subsidies in various forms before 2010.

"Fundamental corrections should be made to change the long-distorted international trade on agricultural produce. Those exerting high tariffs and subsidies ought to do more to this end," said an official with the MOFCOM, who declined to be named.

For the participating members to the Doha round talks, their difference is actually not only confined to agricultural issues. Gap remains in addressing non-agricultural problems, service trade and relevant rules.

Cheng Guoqiang characterized the Doha round talks and other multi-lateral trade talks as "step-by-step".

He said, "when the time is right, success is sure to come. Only with full preparations to address all possible technical problems and with the political will from all involved parties can the talks achieve its goal."

Even if the Hong Kong meeting fails to be a breakthrough, it can solidify what has been achieved in the past and facilitate talks in the future, Cheng said.

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