China's WTO Entry
IT Stays on Fast Track

Although China's IT industry faces some adjustments this year, it will still be the fastest growing in the world in the next few years, according to senior government officials and IT tycoons.

The growth of China's IT industry slowed this year due to the global economic technology downturn and it prompts Chinese IT businesses to analyze their strategies for dealing with further bumps in the road, said Lu Xinkui, vice-minister of information industry (MII), on Saturday at the second IT Fortune Forum organized by China Computerworld, one of the biggest IT media groups in the nation.

With the growth potential of China's IT industry, its revenues may double in the coming four years to 2,000 billion yuan (US$240 billion), said Lu.

Almost all senior executives from the top 50 IT companies, including the local computer giant Legend and big names like IBM and Cisco, agreed that they were experiencing a difficult time in the Chinese market.

"Legend surely has felt the chill of winter - and the worldwide economic depression and the overheating of the Internet last year are major reasons," said Yang Yuanqing, president of China's biggest personal computer maker.

"We will focus on healthy development rather than simply pursuing sales," Yang added.

The company recently adjusted its PC shipments from 4 million to 3.1 million units.

In spite of the present difficulties, the government officials and corporate executives attending the forum expressed unanimous agreement over prospects for the IT industry.

China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) will lead to an opening in all areas and transparent legal structures, so there will be bountiful opportunities for players from home and abroad, said Zhang Xiangchen, deputy director-general of the Department of WTO Affairs with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation.

He revealed that China will lower its tariffs on IT products to zero by the end of 2005, and it will collect tariffs on software on its discs and floppy disks rather than its content within two years after China's accession to the WTO.

Wilson Wan, deputy general manager of the worldwide IT market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) China, also believes that WTO membership and the rising domestic demand will help the IT industry maintain its high speed growth in the next five years.

According to Wan, China will import IT products and technologies worth billions of dollars in the period.

He predicted that IT spending by government will rise from US$10 billion to around US$13 billion, while the finance sector will spend about US$60 billion this year, one-fifth higher than the previous year.

(China Daily December 3, 2001)


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