7:09 AM Sep 21, 1994


Geneva 20 Sep (TWN) -- China is wiling to shoulder only responsibilities of GATT/WTO membership compatible with its level of economic and social development and not achieve membership "at any cost", the Chinese delegate declared Tuesday at the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board during its discussions on the Uruguay Round.

China's application for GATT membership and to enable it to become an original member of the World Trade Organization is a before a working party of the GATT. A high level Chinese delegation is in Geneva holding bilateral negotiations (with the US, EU and other major trading partners) on market access in goods and initial commitments in services and on other terms for accession.

In his intervention at the Board, elaborating the Chinese position, Kening Zhang of the Chinese delegation, noted that the Chinese application has been before the GATT CPs for eight years now. During this period China had radically reformed its foreign economic and trade system to keep them in line with practices generally applied in international economic activities and norms under the GATT -- a fact recognized by all.

At end of August, China had provided a packet of concessions indicating that all its tariffs on products could be bound, and that 90 percent of the bindings would be at 35%, to be reduced to 30% within 5 years of China's resumption of status as GATT cp. The industrialized countries, Zhang noted, had made no such similar commitments to bind their tariffs on all their imports.

China, he said, had also submitted a time-table for progressive elimination of more than 90% of its non-tariff measures and had also made a "significant concession" on services.

All cps would benefit from these concessions which would however come into effect only after China's resumption of GATT status. An immediate settlement (on Chinese entry) would thus be in the interest of all countries and would contribute to the strength of the multilateral trading system and development of international economy and trade.

"It is unfair and unreasonable to ask China to take off all their tariff and non-tariff measures at once while a great deal of high tariff and non-tariff barriers visavis Chinese relative advantage production sectors remain in the industrialized countries," the Chinese delegate declared.

"China believes in the principle that rights and obligations should be balanced. It should be pointed out China is a developing country rather than a developed one -- a fact recognized by all.

"We are ready to shoulder only responsibilities compatible with the level of our economic and social development. China will by no means have its membership in GATT at any cost. We are not going to do any trading with our fundamental state interests.

"We believe that if some major contracting part of GATT creates obstacles to restoring China's membership in GATT, and is unwilling to treat China with conformed conditions, China will have no choice but go on in the light of its own policy.

"This will be neither favourable to other parties nor to the development of economic and trade relations between China and all other countries. China is now making all efforts to avoid this kind of situation. It is our hope that the parties concerned will demonstrate their political will."