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Premier Calls for Wider Opening After WTO Entry

Premier Zhu Rongji has called for adapting to the new situation following China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) and opening wider to the outside world.

He made the call while delivering the Report on the Work of the Government at Tuesday's opening of the annual session of the

National People's Congress (NPC), the China's top legislature.

Zhu said that China's entry into the WTO indicates that its opening up has entered a new stage. "We need to actively participate in international economic cooperation and competition on a broader scale and in greater depth and complete our tasks for the first year of China's membership in the WTO."

According to the premier, in recent years and especially over the past few months, China has done a great deal of work to meet requirements for its entry into the WTO.

Review of relevant state laws and statutes has been completed by and large, and a number of laws and regulations have been repealed, revised and formulated.

Beginning January 1, 2002, China's general tariff level has dropped from 15.3 percent to 12 percent, and the reduction involved more than 5,300 taxable items.

This year China should concentrate on increasing its international competitiveness and fulfilling the following tasks on the basis of what has been achieved, according to Zhu.

First, following the principles of the uniformity of law, nondiscrimination, and openness and transparency, China quickly

improve the system of foreign-related economic laws and statutes so that they are suitable to domestic conditions and the WTO rules and able to guarantee fair and efficient law enforcement.

Second, according to the commitments in its entry into the WTO, China should gradually expand the spheres of activity open to foreign businesses. In addition, it should promptly formulate and revise market access standards for quality, sanitation, epidemic prevention, environmental protection and safety.

Third, China should study, master and fully exercise all the rights that the country enjoys as a member of the WTO, and actively promote and participate in regional economic cooperation.

Fourth, China should study and publicize information about the WTO and its rules, and provide training to public servants, especially leading cadres at and above county and division level and to managerial staff in large and medium-sized enterprises by stages and in groups.

China should bring forth, through training, a contingent of people who are well acquainted with the WTO rules and international economic cooperation and trade.

The premier said that foreign trade work has to be done conscientiously. China should continue implementing the strategy of market diversification to increase this year's exports.

He called for efforts to retain existing markets for China's exports and open new ones. China will adjust and optimize the mix of export commodities, improve their quality and raise their added value.

The policy measures for encouraging exports must be fully carried out, he said, noting that key enterprises that generate large sums of foreign exchange through export and enjoy a good reputation should be ensured of tax refunds in full and on time.

Zhu said that China will promptly reform and improve the system of export tax refunds. Tax exemption, reduction and refunding measures will be applied to those commodities which producers manufacture and export on their own or entrust foreign trade businesses to serve as agents for exporting, he said.

China will expand export credit insurance and provide more support for export. Reform of the customs service will be deepened to further facilitate customs clearance and to improve customs supervision.

China will also further reform and reorganize state-owned foreign trade businesses and diversify foreign trade entities and export channels.

In continuing implementing the "go global" strategy, China will encourage and help eligible enterprises under various forms of

ownership to set up factories or undertake contracted projects outside China, particularly in neighboring countries, in order to increase the export of technology, equipment, materials and labor, the premier said.

China will import advanced technologies, key equipment, and raw and semi-finished materials that are in short supply in the country, and gradually diversify its import markets for strategic supplies.

He said that China will continue to utilize foreign funds and optimize the mix of foreign investment, with focus on bringing in advanced technology, modern managerial expertise and qualified specialists.

China will encourage and guide foreign businesses to invest in modern agriculture, industries using high and new technologies, construction of infrastructure facilities, and development of the western region and to participate in the restructuring and reorganization of state-owned enterprises, according to Zhu.

He called for encouraging foreign businesses, especially transnational corporations, to set up research and development centers, production bases and regional headquarters in China.

To promote the development of China's service industries, the country should attract large reputable foreign enterprises and intermediary agencies engaged in commerce and trade, tourism, accounting and auditing.

China should also create conditions for attracting investment by small and medium-sized overseas enterprises.

He pledged to continue improving the investment environment and the legal system; do everything in accordance with the law; render better services to investors; improve efficiency, and standardize the work related to attracting foreign businesses and investment.

(Xinhua News Agency March 5, 2002)

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