Bilateral Talks on China's WTO Membership Not Excluded in APEC Meeting: Chief Negotiator

A leading Chinese trade negotiation official said Tuesday that bilateral talks concerning the country's membership in the World Trade Organization will not be excluded in the upcoming meeting of trade ministers of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Shanghai.

Long Yongtu, chief representative for negotiations of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (MOFTEC), said in a press briefing that although the focus of the negotiations is now on multi-lateral talks, bilateral negotiation is "not excluded" during the Shanghai meeting of trade ministers, scheduled for June 6 and 7.

Such talks will help accelerate the process of China's entry into the WTO, he said.

China's bid to enter the WTO and its predecessor has lasted for 14 years. So far, it has basically concluded bilateral talks with members of the WTO.

"Whether China can join the WTO before November this year is a decision beyond China's capability," he said. "I have heard many economic entities are hoping for China's accession before November this year, or before the launching of the new round of multilateral trade talks of the WTO because the new round will not be a genuine global multilateral trade negotiation without the participation of China."

He added that any decision resulting from the negotiations will not be able to be fully carried out without China's participation.

Many economic entities have expressed the hope that China would participate in the new round of talks, and "this is also the hope of China," Long noted.

(People’s Daily 05/08/2001)

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