8:16 AM Mar 16, 1994


Geneva 15 Mar (TWN) -- The working party looking into the application of China for resumption of its membership of GATT resumed its work Tuesday, with general support for China's accession and speeding up of the process and completing it in time to enable China to join GATT before the end of the year and become an original member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The United States though it did not specially oppose this, made clear that it would not subscribe to any artificial deadlines.

The US-China trade relationships, and China getting MFN status on its trade with the US (currently renewed on an annual basis) have been caught up over the issues of human rights in China.

The working party Tuesday addressed questions relating to the Chinese foreign exchange and tax regimes. Given that the Uruguay Round agreements have been concluded, the working party is also to address Chinese regimes in intellectual property and services questions (as decided at the GATT council recently).

The Chinese representatives explained both their foreign exchange regime and their tax regimes, and are due to answer several questions on these to be put to them in writing.

While most of the delegations expressed support for faster work to facilitate Chinese accession, their remarks also made clear that all of them had reservations relating to the Chinese economy and the role of the state now, and safeguards to be built into the Chinese protocol to take care of the transition between the present progress towards marketisation and a fully transformed market economy to which GATT/WTO rights and obligations could apply.

Japan indicated that it was also undertaking tariff negotiations with China and had put in its 'requests'.

The European Union too supported work to facilitate Chinese accession, viewed the changes and reforms as in the right direction and positive, but indirectly flagged some of the issues and concerns on the effect of China getting full GATT rights while not a fully market economy.

Canada, Austria, Australia, Sweden (for the Nordics) and New Zealand were among those who provided broad support for accelerating work on the Chinese accession, but without apparently diluting their views on some specific aspects and safeguards.