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WTO Tests Central, Local Governments

China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) will be a stern test of the central and local governments for their policymaking, relationships with enterprises, make-up and philosophies, prominent Chinese economists said over the weekend in Beijing.

At a conference of the Chinese Economists 50, a high-profile club for renowned bankers, economic and trade officials and scholars, many raised deep concern about whether governments themselves will be adaptable to impacts WTO accession is sure to bring about.

At the annual plenary meeting of the club, which was formed in 1999 and now has 40 members, some implied the governments were not fully prepared.

Consensus was still not reached on some urgent issues and major problems have yet to be solved. Recent studies on a government's re-orientation in changed circumstances remained weak, they also said.

Most of the economists who spoke - the theme was China's Development Strategy after the WTO Accession - touched upon the governmental issues, focusing on controversial policies, adjustment in decision-making procedures, or redefining of the roles of government in new circumstances.

Some anticipated the impact of WTO accession would bring to governments would be overwhelming. Many proposed a separate seminar on the government as well.

Some economists stressed the issue of governmental interference in enterprises, controversial policies that discriminate against private ownership, and necessary deregulation to foster free trade and social justice.

The Chinese Economists 50 has sponsored 22 seminars in Beijing over the past three years.

Hewlett-Packard (China) Co Ltd will assist the Chinese Economists 50 club in its academic activities in an agreement signed between the company and the club last weekend in Beijing.

(People's Daily April 1, 2002)

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