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Law Amendments to Balance Protection and Compliance
A senior trade official said pending amendments to the nation's nine-year-old Foreign Trade Law will aim to create a balance between better protection of domestic enterprise and compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

The current Foreign Trade Law was enacted in 1994, when the Uruguay round had not been completed.

"The nation's foreign trade has seen great leaps forward in the past nine years and the government's style of managing foreign trade has changed,'' said Zhang Yuqing, director of the Department of Treaty and Law of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

In the post-WTO era, the functions of the government have shifted from managing the specific operation issues of enterprise to ensuring fair and ordered competition and taking measures to protect domestic enterprise when they face discrimination or injury in foreign trade, said Zhang.

The new foreign trade law will fill the gaps of the current provisions so that domestic enterprise find it easier to protect their interests and rights, he said.

For example, the new legislation is expected to explain the implications of trade promotion and specify how to implement the mechanism. It will clarify what constitutes discrimination against Chinese exports and what measures can be taken in cases of such discrimination.

Current legislation only provides some general principles of trade promotion.

"Under the new law, Chinese enterprise will be able to conduct investigations, turn to arbitration and even resort to the WTO to solve any trade barrier or discrimination which goes against WTO principles,'' he said.

Zhang said the new law would also help the nation's exports and service trade sectors to open new overseas markets. The intellectual property rights and some new mechanisms, such as tariff quotas and State trade, should also be incorporated into the new law.

Chinese experts on foreign trade say the government should make full use of WTO rules which reflect national interests, such as clauses on general exception and security exception, to better protect domestic enterprises, said a lecturer with the University of International Business and Economics, who asked to remain anonymous.

The draft amendment is expected to be submitted to legislators this year after gaining approval from the State Council, said Zhang.

Under Legislative Procedure Law, the State Council is eligible to submit draft legislation to the top legislative body.

(China Daily January 13, 2003)

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