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China to Overhaul Foreign Trade Law

China's current Foreign Trade Law, passed in May 1994, is expected to be amended drastically in line with the new situation and demands following China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001.


Since the current Foreign Trade Law can not completely meet the new situation of China's foreign trade, it is necessary to amend it, said Vice-Commerce Minister Yu Guangzhou at the opening meeting Monday of the sixth session of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress, which runs from Dec. 22 to 27.


Yu said China has changed some related laws and regulations in line with the agreement between China and the WTO after China's accession to the WTO, but still faces tasks to finish the process through amending the Foreign Trade Law, Chinese basic law on foreign trade.


Individuals can also be operators of foreign trade, and some restrictive qualifications on foreign trade operators will be removed, under the submitted draft.


The other reason to amend the law is to protect China's related industries and market in accordance with the WTO provisions, so that China can make good use of the anti-subsidy, anti-dumping and other relief measures to protect possible victims among Chinese industries, said Yu.


The draft adds two chapters on protection of intellectual property and foreign trade investigations, respectively, and some provisions about restriction on imports and exports, safety exceptions and others.


In order to respond promptly to sudden changes in foreign trade and provide better service to the operators, the draft also suggests establishing an early-warning system, a public information service system, a statistics mechanism and publicity about illegal operations.


Compared with the only punishment in the current law -- withdrawal of operation credit -- the draft strengthens sanctions against illegal operations through adopting more severe punishments, from criminal penalties to administrative penalties and abolition of operators' qualifications.


The draft will be discussed at group meetings in the next few days, and is expected to be passed next year.


(Xinhua News Agency December 23, 2003)


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