U.S. to assist China in joining new trade body

March 13, 1995|By New York Times News Service

BEIJING — C BEIJING -- Ending months of recrimination, China and the United States agreed yesterday to jointly press for Beijing's entry into the new World Trade Organization on a "flexible, pragmatic and realistic basis."

The accords signed yesterday seek to put an end to the atmosphere of enmity that has characterized Chinese-American trade negotiations in general, and in particular, the negotiations over China's entry into the world trading system.

And for the first time since December, the Beijing authorities have given a clear signal that they intend to return to the negotiating table after the collapse of China's original bid for membership in the World Trade Organization.

The words from both sides at a news conference were warm and optimistic. Yet few details were offered of what changes China might undertake to satisfy the requirements of the international trade body, the organizational successor in Geneva to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. And until those issues are resolved, many vexing issues remain.

The World Bank noted last year, for instance, that, "on average, China's tariffs" and other trade barriers "remain higher, more numerous and more dispersed than those of most other large developing countries."

Tariffs on U.S. cars, computers and Japanese fax machines all run 100 percent or more.

China bans all American citrus fruit from its market and has refused to accept wheat shipments from the Pacific Northwest or tobacco from the Southeast.

The United States, in agreeing to sponsor China's renewed bid for membership, also pledged to make concessions that would allow China to phase out some tariffs, quotas and other trade barriers over a number of years under the more lenient rules written for developing countries.

The agreement was reached between U.S. Trade Rep. Mickey Kantor and China's trade minister, Wu Yi, in resolving Beijing's suspension of a 1992 market-access accord that was to have opened the Chinese market to a broad assortment of American goods.

As part of yesterday's accord, China agreed to resume applying the market-access agreement no later than the end of this month.

Over the last two months, Western diplomats had begun to wonder whether the Communist Party leadership was balking over the high price China would have to pay as a World Trade Organization member.

Under the organization's rules, China would be forced to expose its heavily protected domestic industries to competition from Western and Japanese goods, while at the same time opening foreign markets for its products.

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