Jul 17, 1986


GENEVA, JULY 15 (IFDA/CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) -- A working party is to be set up in GATT in due course to examine the Chinese application for "resumption" of its status as a GATT Contracting Party.

Beijing had officially notified GATT on July 14 of its intention, and this request was circulated to the GATT Contracting Parties and officially presented to the GATT Council Tuesday.

Before the end of the year, China is to send a memorandum on the Chinese Economic System and Foreign Trade Regime, after which a working party would be set up to examine the Chinese request and settle on the terms and conditions of the Chinese accession.

China, both in its communication to GATT, and in the speech at the GATT Council of the Chinese delegate, Amb. Qian Jiadong, spoke of China being an original signatory to the general agreement, and described the present move as merely for "resumption" of the status.

In his speech to the GATT Council Tuesday, the Chinese delegate, Amb. Qian Jiadong stressed that "China was one of the original Contracting Parties to the GATT".

"It was only due to historical reasons that the formal relationship between China and the GATT was later suspended, as were also in the cases of China’s relationship with other international organisations and forums", Qian said.

(In the 1950’s, when China was represented in GATT by the Kuomintang delegation, it withdrew from the general agreement).

Qian noted Tuesday that in 1971 the legitimate seat of the Peoples Republic of China in the UN had been restored, and thereafter in many other international organisations and institutions.

"The Chinese Government considers that now is the time for China to seek the resumption of its status as a Contracting Party to the GATT as well", Qian added.

GATT sources noted that while no one has commented on China’s claim to "resume" its membership in GATT, other CPS have indicated that even for this China would have to negotiate its terms, and offer concessions to other CPS to enable its accession.

These sources also expect that the negotiations for Chinese accession or resumption could take considerable time, since China is a centrally planned economy and not a market economy country, and thus terms would have to be negotiated as in respect of some of the East European Socialists to ensure market access for goods of other CPS.

China has also stressed its status as a "developing country" and has expressed the hope that the obligations and concessions it would be called upon to make for "resumption" of its status as a GATT CP would be in line with this.

In Tuesday’s Council discussion, while a number of delegations who spoke took note of this Chinese request, the U.S. and the EEC spokesmen who welcomed the Chinese move made no comment on this, according to a GATT spokesman.

The spokesman also said that the implications of China’s request for "resumption" of GATT membership, and the terms and conditions for this, would have to be negotiated and approved, and as in other cases put to a vote of the GATT CPS for approval.

The question of Chinese participation in the proposed new round, or its participation in the Punta del Este Ministerial Meeting, the spokesman said, would depend on decisions of the GATT Preparatory Committee for a new round, and ultimately of the Punta del Este meeting itself.

According to IMF data, based on Chinese customs statistics, in 1985 China imported 42.5 billion dollars worth of goods and exported 27.3 billion dollars.

About 78 percent of its imports are manufactures – with machinery and transport equipment accounting for nearly 30 percent, iron and steel for 17 percent, chemicals for ten percent, and specialised machinery for about 12 percent.

On export side, about 51 percent is of primary products and 36.3 percent of manufactures, with textiles and clothing accounting for about 53 percent of the manufactured exports.