II. ECONOMIC POLICIES
1. Non-Discrimination (including national treatment)
15. Some members expressed concern regarding the application of the principle of non-discrimination in relation to foreign individuals and enterprises (whether wholly or partly foreign funded). Those members stated that China should enter a commitment to accord non-discriminatory treatment to all foreign individuals and enterprises and foreign-funded enterprises in respect of the procurement of inputs and goods and services necessary for production of goods and the conditions under which their goods were produced, marketed or sold, in the domestic market and for export. In addition, those members said that China should also enter a commitment to guarantee non-discriminatory treatment in respect of the prices and availability of goods and services supplied by national and sub-national authorities and public or state enterprises, in areas including transportation, energy, basic telecommunications, other utilities and factors of production.
16. Some members of the Working Party also raised concerns over China's practice of conditioning or imposing restrictions upon participation in the Chinese economy based upon the nationality of the entity concerned. Those members in particular raised concerns over such practices in relation to the pricing and procurement of goods and services, and the distribution of import and export licences. Members of the Working Party requested that China enter into a commitment not to condition such practices on the nationality of the entity concerned.
17. In response, the representative of China emphasized the importance of the commitments that the government was undertaking on non-discrimination. The representative of China noted, however, that any commitment to provide non-discriminatory treatment to Chinese enterprises, including foreign-funded enterprises, and foreign enterprises and individuals in China, would be subject to other provisions of the Draft Protocol and, in particular, would not prejudice China's rights under the GATS, China's Schedule of Specific Commitments or commitments undertaken in relation to trade-related investment measures.
18. The representative of China further confirmed that China would provide the same treatment to Chinese enterprises, including foreign-funded enterprises, and foreign enterprises and individuals in China. China would eliminate dual pricing practices as well as differences in treatment accorded to goods produced for sale in China in comparison to those produced for export. The Working Party took note of these commitments.
19. The representative of China confirmed that, consistent with China's rights and obligations under the WTO Agreement and the Draft Protocol, China would provide non-discriminatory treatment to all WTO Members, including Members of the WTO that were separate customs territories. The Working Party took note of this commitment.
20. Some members of the Working Party expressed concern about certain provisions of Chinese laws, regulations, administrative notices and other requirements which could, directly or indirectly, result in less favourable treatment of imported products in contravention of Article III of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ("GATT 1994"). Such requirements included product registration and certification, internal taxation, price and profit controls and all distinct forms of licensing for imports, and distribution or sale of imported goods. Even where such requirements existed in relation to domestically produced goods, those members reiterated that any de facto or de jure less favourable treatment of imported goods had to be eliminated in order to ensure full conformity with the principle of national treatment.
21. Some members of the Working Party drew China's attention to the variety of types of requirements which could contravene Article III of the GATT 1994. Specific reference was made to the procedures, charges and conditions for granting of business licences, whether to import, distribute, re-sell or retail goods of non-Chinese origin. Reference was also made to taxes and fiscal provisions whose impact depended, directly or indirectly, upon the Chinese or non-Chinese origin of the goods imported or traded. Those members drew the attention of China to its obligation to ensure that product testing and certification requirements, including procedures for in situ inspections, posed no greater burden - whether financial or practical - on goods of non-Chinese origin than on domestic goods. Those members underlined that conformity assessment procedures and standards, including safety and other compliance requirements, had to respect the terms of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade ("TBT Agreement") as well as Article III of the GATT 1994.
22. The representative of China confirmed that the full respect of all laws, regulations and administrative requirements with the principle of non-discrimination between domestically produced and imported products would be ensured and enforced by the date of China's accession unless otherwise provided in the Draft Protocol or Report. The representative of China declared that, by accession, China would repeal and cease to apply all such existing laws, regulations and other measures whose effect was inconsistent with WTO rules on national treatment. This commitment was made in relation to final or interim laws, administrative measures, rules and notices, or any other form of stipulation or guideline. The Working Party took note of these commitments.
23. In particular, the representative of China confirmed that measures would be taken at national and sub-national level, including repeal or modification of legislation, to provide full GATT national treatment in respect of laws, regulations and other measures applying to internal sale, offering for sale, purchase, transportation, distribution or use of the following:
- After sales service (repair, maintenance and assistance), including any conditions applying to its provision, such as the MOFTEC third Decree of 6 September 1993, imposing mandatory licensing procedures for the supply of after-sales service on various imported products;
- Pharmaceutical products, including regulations, notices and measures which subjected imported pharmaceuticals to distinct procedures and formulas for pricing and classification, or which set limits on profit margins attainable and imports, or which created any other conditions regarding price or local content which could result in less favourable treatment of imported products;
- Cigarettes, including unification of the licensing requirements so that a single licence authorized the sale of all cigarettes, irrespective of their country of origin, and elimination of any other restrictions regarding points of sale for imported products, such as could be imposed by the China National Tobacco Corporation ("CNTC"). It was understood that in the case of cigarettes, China could avail itself of a transitional period of two years to fully unify the licensing requirements. Immediately upon accession, and during the two year transitional period, the number of retail outlets selling imported cigarettes would be substantially increased throughout the territory of China;
- Spirits, including requirements applied under China's "Administrative Measures on Imported Spirits in the Domestic Market", and other provisions which imposed distinct criteria and licensing for the distribution and sale of different categories of spirits, including unification of the licensing requirements so that a single licence authorized the sale of all spirits irrespective of their country of origin;
- Chemicals, including registration procedures applicable to imported products, such as those applied under China's "Provisions on the Environmental Administration of Initial Imports of Chemical Products and Imports and Exports of Toxic Chemical Products";
- Boilers and pressure vessels, including certification and inspection procedures which had to be no less favourable than those applied to goods of Chinese origin, and fees applied by the relevant agencies or administrative bodies, which had to be equitable in relation to those chargeable for like products of domestic origin.
The representative of China stated that in the cases of pharmaceuticals, spirits and chemicals cited above, China would reserve the right to use a transitional period of one year from the date of accession in order to amend or repeal the relevant legislation. The Working Party took note of these commitments.
2. Monetary and Fiscal Policy
24. The representative of China stated that through the reform and opening up in the last two decades, China had established a fiscal management system which was compatible with the principles of a market economy. With respect to fiscal revenue, a taxation system with a value-added tax as the main element had been established since the taxation reform in 1994. With respect to fiscal expenditure, over recent years the government had, in line with the public fiscal requirement generally exercised by market economies, strengthened its adjustment of the structure of expenditure and given priority to public needs so as to ensure the normal operations of the government.
25. The representative of China further stated that in recent years, while pursuing proactive fiscal policy, China had implemented proper monetary policy and had taken a series of adjusting and reform measures which included lowering the interest rate for loans from financial institutions, improving the system of required deposit reserves and lowering the ratio of required reserves, positively increasing the input of base money and encouraging the commercial banks to expand their credit.
26. In respect of future fiscal policy, the representative of China noted that the Government of China would further improve its taxation system and would continue to improve the efficiency of fiscal expenditure through implementing reform measures such as sectoral budget, centralized payment by the national treasury and zero base budget, as well as improving management of fiscal expenditure. With respect to future monetary policy, the central bank would continue to pursue a prudent policy, maintain the stability of RMB, promote interest rate liberalization and establish a modern commercial banking system.
3. Foreign Exchange and Payments
27. Some members of the Working Party raised concerns about China's use of forex controls to regulate the level and composition of trade in goods and services. In response, the representative of China stated that China was now a member of the International Monetary Fund ("IMF") and that recently its system of forex had undergone rapid change. Significant moves had been taken to reform, rationalize and liberalize the forex market. The practice of multiple exchange rates in swap centres had been abolished. China had already unified its forex market and removed many of the restrictions on the use of forex.
28. Outlining the historical development of China's forex reform, the representative of China stated that the purpose of China's forex reform was to reduce administrative intervention and increase the role of market forces. From 1979, a forex retention system was applied in China, although forex swap was gradually developing. In early 1994, official RMB exchange rates were unified with the market rates. The banking exchange system was adopted and a nationwide unified inter-bank forex market was established, with conditional convertibility of the Renminbi on current accounts. Since 1996, foreign invested enterprises ("FIEs") were also permitted into the banking exchange system, and the remaining exchange restrictions on current accounts were eliminated. On 1 December 1996, China had formally accepted the obligations of Article VIII of the IMF's Articles of Agreement, removing exchange restrictions on current account transactions. Accordingly, since then the Renminbi had been fully convertible on current accounts. It was confirmed by the IMF in its Staff Report on Article IV Consultations with China in 2000 that China had no existing forex restrictions for current account transactions.
29. The representative of China stated that the State Administration of Foreign Exchange ("SAFE") was under the auspices of the People's Bank of China ("PBC"), and was the administrative organ empowered to regulate forex. Its main functions were to monitor and advise on balance-of-payments and forex matters. SAFE was also required to draft appropriate regulations and monitor compliance. He further noted that domestic and foreign banks, and financial institutions could engage in forex business, with the approval of the PBC.
30. In response to requests from members of the Working Party for further information, the representative of China added that for forex payments under current accounts, domestic entities (including FIEs) could purchase forex at market exchange rates from designated banks or debit their forex accounts directly upon presentation of valid documents. For payments such as pre-payment, commission, etc., exceeding the proportion or limit, the entities could also purchase forex from the banks upon meeting the bona fide test administered by SAFE. Forex for personal use by individuals could be purchased directly from the banks upon presentation of valid documents (within a specified limit). For amounts exceeding the limit, individuals able to prove their need for additional forex could purchase it from the banks. He also noted that current account forex receipts owned by domestic entities had to be repatriated into China, some of which could be retained and some sold to the designated banks at market rates. A verification system for forex payment (imports) and forex receipt (exports) had also been adopted.
31. Concerning the exchange rate regime in particular, the representative of China noted that since the unification of exchange rates on 1 January 1994, China had adopted a single and managed floating exchange rate regime based on supply and demand. PBC published the reference rates of RMB against the US dollar, the HK dollar and Japanese yen based on the weighted average prices of forex transactions at the interbank forex market during the previous day's trading. The buying and selling rates of RMB against the US dollar on the inter-bank forex market could fluctuate within 0.3 per cent of the reference rate. For the HK dollar and Japanese yen, the permitted range was 1 per cent. Designated forex banks could deal with their clients at an agreed rate. Under such contracts the exchange rate of the US dollar was required to be within 0.15 per cent of the reference rate, whereas for the HK dollar and Japanese yen, the permitted range was 1 per cent. The exchange rates for other foreign currencies were based on the rates of RMB against the US dollar and cross-exchange rates of other foreign currency on the international market. The permitted margin between the buying and selling rate could not exceed 0.5 per cent.
32. The representative of China further noted that since 1 January 1994, designated forex banks had become major participants in forex transactions. On 1 April 1994, the China Foreign Exchange Trading System was set up in Shanghai and branches were opened in dozens of cities. The Foreign Exchange Trading System had adopted a system of membership, respective quotation, concentrated trading and forex market settlement. Designated forex banks dealt on the inter-bank market according to the turnover position limit on banking exchange stipulated by SAFE and covered the position on the market. Depending on its macro-economic objectives, the PBC could intervene in the forex open market in order to regulate market supply and demand, and maintain the stability of the RMB exchange rate.
33. The representative of China noted that since 1 July 1996, forex dealing of the FIEs was carried out through the banking exchange system. He further noted that to encourage foreign direct investment, China had granted national treatment to FIEs in exchange administration. Accordingly, FIEs were allowed to open and hold forex settlement accounts to retain receipts under current accounts, up to a maximum amount stipulated by SAFE. Receipts in excess of the maximum amount were required to be sold to designated forex banks. No restrictions were maintained on the payment and transfer of current transactions by FIEs, and FIEs could purchase forex from designated forex banks or debit their forex accounts for any payment under current transactions, upon the presentation of valid documents to the designated forex banks or SAFE for the bona fide test. FIEs could also open forex accounts to hold foreign-invested capital, and they could sell from these accounts upon the approval of SAFE. FIEs could also borrow forex directly from domestic and overseas banks, but were required to register with SAFE afterwards, and obtain approval by SAFE for debt repayment and services. FIEs could make payments from their forex accounts or in forex purchased from designated forex banks after liquidation, upon approval by SAFE according to law.
34. The representative of China further noted that the laws and regulations mentioned above were: Law of the People's Republic of China on Chinese-Foreign Equity Joint Venture; Law of the People's Republic of China on Chinese-Foreign Contractual Joint Venture; Regulations on the Exchange System of the People's Republic of China; and Regulations on the Sale and Purchase of and Payment in Foreign Exchange.
35. The representative of China stated that China would implement its obligations with respect to forex matters in accordance with the provisions of the WTO Agreement and related declarations and decisions of the WTO that concerned the IMF. The representative further recalled China's acceptance of Article VIII of the IMF's Articles of Agreement, which provided that "no member shall, without the approval of the Fund, impose restrictions on the making of payments and transfers for current international transactions". He stated that, in accordance with these obligations, and unless otherwise provided for in the IMF's Articles of Agreement, China would not resort to any laws, regulations or other measures, including any requirements with respect to contractual terms, that would restrict the availability to any individual or enterprise of forex for current international transactions within its customs territory to an amount related to the forex inflows attributable to that individual or enterprise. The Working Party took note of these commitments.
36. In addition, the representative of China stated that China would provide information on exchange measures as required under Article VIII, Section 5 of the IMF's Articles of Agreement, and such other information on its exchange measures as was deemed necessary in the context of the transitional review mechanism. The Working Party took note of this commitment.
4. Balance-of-Payments Measures
37. Some members of the Working Party stated that China should apply balance-of-payments ("BOPs") measures only under the circumstances provided for in the WTO Agreement and not as a justification for imposition of restrictions on imports for other protectionist purposes. Those members stated that measures taken for BOPs reasons should have the least trade disruptive effect possible and should be limited to temporary import surcharges, import deposit requirements or other equivalent price-based trade measures, and those measures should not be used to provide import protection for specific sectors, industries or products.
38. Those members of the Working Party further stated that any such measures should be notified pursuant to the Understanding on the Balance-of-Payments Provisions of the GATT 1994 ("BOPs Understanding") to the General Council not later than the imposition of the measures, together with a time schedule for their elimination and a programme of external and domestic policy measures to be used to restore BOPs equilibrium. Those members also stated that following deposit of such a notification, the Committee on Balance-of-Payments Restrictions ("BOPs Committee") should meet to examine the notification. It was noted that paragraph 4 of the BOPs Understanding would be available to China in the case of "essential products". Some members stated that the BOPs Committee should review the operation of any BOPs measures taken by China, if so requested by China or a WTO Member.
39. Some other members of the Working Party considered that, in respect of measures taken for BOP purposes, China should enjoy the same rights as those accorded to other developing country WTO Members, as provided in GATT Article XVIII:B and the BOPs Understanding.
40. In response, the representative of China stated that China considered that it should have the right to make full use of WTO BOPs provisions to protect, if necessary, its BOPs situation. He confirmed that China would fully comply with the provisions of the GATT 1994 and the BOPs Understanding. Further to such compliance, China would give preference to application of price-based measures as set forth in the BOPs Understanding. If China resorted to measures that were not price-based, it would transform such measures into price-based measures as soon as possible. Any measures taken would be maintained strictly in accordance with the GATT 1994 and the BOPs Understanding, and would not exceed what was necessary to address the particular BOPs situation. The representative of China also confirmed that measures taken for BOPs reasons would only be applied to control the general level of imports and not to protect specific sectors, industries or products, except as noted in paragraph 38. The Working Party took note of these commitments.
5. Investment Regime
41. The representative of China stated that since the inception of the reform and opening up policy in the late 1970's, China had carried out a series of reforms of its investment regime. The highly centralized investment administration under the planned economy had been progressively transformed into a new pattern of diversification of investors, multi-channelling of capital sources and diversification of investment modalities. The government encouraged foreign investment into the Chinese market and had uninterruptedly opened and expanded the scope for investment. At the same time, the Government of China also encouraged the development of the non-state-operated economy and was speeding up the opening of areas for non-state investment. With China's programme in the establishment of its market economy, the construction projects of various enterprises utilizing free capital and financed by the credit of the enterprise would be fully subject to the decision-making of the enterprise concerned and at their own risk. The commercial banks' credit activities to all kinds of investors would be based on their own evaluation and decision-making, and would be at their own risk. The business activities of intermediate investment agencies would be fully subject to the market and would provide service at the instruction of the investors. These agencies would break up their administrative relations with government agencies and the service activities financed by the government would also be subject to the terms and conditions agreed in the contracts concerned.
42. The representative of China further stated that China had promulgated investment guidelines and that the Government of China was in the process of revising and completing these guidelines. Responding to concerns raised by certain members of the Working Party, he confirmed that these investment guidelines and their implementation would be in full conformity with the WTO Agreement. The Working Party took note of this commitment.
6. State-Owned and State-Invested Enterprises
43. The representative of China stated that the state-owned enterprises of China basically operated in accordance with rules of market economy. The government would no longer directly administer the human, finance and material resources, and operational activities such as production, supply and marketing. The prices of commodities produced by state-owned enterprises were decided by the market and resources in operational areas were fundamentally allocated by the market. The state-owned banks had been commercialized and lending to state-owned enterprises took place exclusively under market conditions. China was furthering its reform of state-owned enterprises and establishing a modern enterprise system.
44. In light of the role that state-owned and state-invested enterprises played in China's economy, some members of the Working Party expressed concerns about the continuing governmental influence and guidance of the decisions and activities of such enterprises relating to the purchase and sale of goods and services. Such purchases and sales should be based solely on commercial considerations, without any governmental influence or application of discriminatory measures. In addition, those members indicated the need for China to clarify its understanding of the types of activities that would not come within the scope of Article III:8(a) of GATT 1994. For example, any measure relating to state-owned and state-invested enterprises importing materials and machinery used in the assembly of goods, which were then exported or otherwise made available for commercial sale or use or for non-governmental purposes, would not be considered to be a measure relating to government procurement.
45. The representative of China emphasized the evolving nature of China's economy and the significant role of FIEs and the private sector in the economy. Given the increasing need and desirability of competing with private enterprises in the market, decisions by state-owned and state-invested enterprises had to be based on commercial considerations as provided in the WTO Agreement.
46. The representative of China further confirmed that China would ensure that all state-owned and state-invested enterprises would make purchases and sales based solely on commercial considerations, e.g., price, quality, marketability and availability, and that the enterprises of other WTO Members would have an adequate opportunity to compete for sales to and purchases from these enterprises on non-discriminatory terms and conditions. In addition, the Government of China would not influence, directly or indirectly, commercial decisions on the part of state-owned or state-invested enterprises, including on the quantity, value or country of origin of any goods purchased or sold, except in a manner consistent with the WTO Agreement. The Working Party took note of these commitments.
47. The representative of China confirmed that, without prejudice to China's rights in future negotiations in the Government Procurement Agreement, all laws, regulations and measures relating to the procurement by state-owned and state-invested enterprises of goods and services for commercial sale, production of goods or supply of services for commercial sale, or for non-governmental purposes would not be considered to be laws, regulations and measures relating to government procurement. Thus, such purchases or sales would be subject to the provisions of Articles II, XVI and XVII of the GATS and Article III of the GATT 1994. The Working Party took note of this commitment.
48. Certain members of the Working Party expressed concern about laws, regulations and measures in China affecting the transfer of technology, in particular in the context of investment decisions. Moreover, these members expressed concern about measures conditioning the receipt of benefits, including investment approvals, upon technology transfer. In their view, the terms and conditions of technology transfer, particularly in the context of an investment, should be agreed between the parties to the investment without government interference. The government should not, for example, condition investment approval upon technology transfer.
49. The representative of China confirmed that China would only impose, apply or enforce laws, regulations or measures relating to the transfer of technology, production processes, or other proprietary knowledge to an individual or enterprise in its territory that were not inconsistent with the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights ("TRIPS Agreement") and the Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures ("TRIMs Agreement"). He confirmed that the terms and conditions of technology transfer, production processes or other proprietary knowledge, particularly in the context of an investment, would only require agreement between the parties to the investment. The Working Party took note of these commitments.
7. Pricing Policies
50. Some members of the Working Party noted that China had made extensive use of price controls, for example in the agricultural sector. Those members requested that China undertake specific commitments concerning its system of state pricing. In particular, those members stated that China should allow prices for traded goods and services in every sector to be determined by market forces, and multi-tier pricing practices for such goods and services should be eliminated. Those members noted, however, that China expected to maintain price controls on the goods and services listed in Annex 4 to the Draft Protocol, and stated that any such controls should be maintained in a manner consistent with the WTO Agreement, in particular Article III of the GATT 1994 and Annex 2, paragraphs 3 and 4, of the Agreement on Agriculture. Those members noted that except in exceptional circumstances, and subject to notification to the WTO Secretariat, price controls should not be extended to goods or services beyond those listed in Annex 4, and China should make its best efforts to reduce and eliminate those controls. They also asked that China publish in the appropriate official journal the list of goods and services subject to state pricing and changes thereto.
51. Some members of the Working Party expressed the view that price controls and state pricing in China also encompassed "guidance pricing" and regulation of the range of profits that enterprises could enjoy. Such policies and practices would also be subject to China's commitments. In their view, price controls should be adopted only in extraordinary circumstances and should be removed as soon as the circumstances justifying their adoption were addressed.
52. The representative of China said that China currently applied a mechanism of market-based pricing under macro-economic adjustment. He noted that national treatment was applied in the areas of government pricing for all imported goods. There were presently three types of prices: government price, government guidance price and market-regulated price. The government price was set by price administration authorities and could not be changed without the approval of these authorities. Products and services subject to government pricing were those having a direct bearing on the national economy and the basic needs of the people's livelihood, including those products that were scarce in China.
53. The representative of China stated that when government prices or government guidance prices needed to be adjusted or reset, the agencies or operators concerned should apply or propose to the competent pricing authorities for that purpose. There was not a fixed time frame for the adjustment of government prices or government guidance prices. Competent agencies or operators could, in the light of market changes and according to relevant provisions of the Price Law, submit applications or proposals to the competent pricing authorities for pricing or adjustment of the original prices. The government pricing authorities would, in the light of such factors as market demand and supply, operational costs, effect on consumers as well as the quality of services, determine specific prices for the services concerned, or set guidance prices and floating ranges within which operators could determine specific prices. When setting prices for public utilities, important public welfare services and goods subject to natural monopolies and services which were of vital interest to the general public, government pricing authorities would hold public hearings and invite consumers, operators and other concerned parties to comment and debate on the necessity and impact of a price adjustment. The prices of important services were subject to the approval of the State Council. This mechanism had helped to significantly improve the rationality and transparency of government pricing. All enterprises, regardless of their nature and ownership, were free to participate in such hearings and voice their opinions and concerns which would be taken into consideration by the competent pricing authorities. Meanwhile, government pricing was product- or service-specific, regardless of the ownership of the enterprises concerned. All the enterprises and individuals enjoyed the same treatment in terms of participating in the process of setting government prices and government guidance prices.
54. The representative of China added that the government guidance price mechanism was a more flexible form of pricing. The price administration authorities stipulated either a basic price or floating ranges. The floating range of guidance pricing was generally 5 per cent to 15 per cent. Enterprises could, within the limits of the guidance and taking into account the market situation, make their own decisions on prices. With market-regulated prices, enterprises were free to set prices in accordance with supply and demand to the extent permitted by generally applicable laws, regulations and policies concerning prices.
55. The representative of China stated that in formulating government prices and government guidance prices, the following criteria were taken into account: normal production costs, supply and demand situation, relevant government policies and prices of related products. When fixing prices of consumer goods, consideration was given to the limits of consumers' purchasing power. He noted that due to the continued reform of China's price system, the share of government prices had dropped substantially and that of market-regulated prices had increased; of social retailing products, the share of government prices was about 4 per cent, that of government guidance prices 1.2 per cent, and that of market-regulated prices 94.7 per cent. For agricultural products, the share of government prices was 9.1 per cent, government guidance prices 7.1 per cent, and market-regulated 83.3 per cent. For production inputs, the share of government prices was 9.6 per cent, that of government guidance prices 4.4 per cent, and market-regulated prices 86 per cent. The share of directly government-controlled prices had been much reduced. China's price system was becoming increasingly rationalized, creating a relatively fair marketplace for all enterprises to compete on an equal footing.
56. The representative of China recalled that Annex 4 of the Draft Protocol contained a comprehensive listing of all products and services presently subject to government guidance pricing and government pricing. He stated that the services subject to price controls were listed in Annex 4 by their respective CPC codes.
57. Some members of the Working Party requested additional information on the specific activities subject to government pricing or government guidance pricing. In particular, those members requested information on professional services, educational services, and charges for settlement clearing and transmission services of banks. In response, the representative of China stated that "The Administrative Rules on Intermediate Services" promulgated in 1999 by six central government agencies led by the State Development and Planning Commission ("SDPC") dealt with government pricing on intermediate services such as inspection authentication, notarization and arbitration and services which were in limited supply due to their special requirements. For legal services, the Interim Regulation on Charges and Fees of Legal Services, jointly promulgated by the SDPC and the Ministry of Justice stipulated that for law firms practising Chinese law, charges and fees for the following activities were subject to the approval of the SDPC: (1) representing a client in a civil case, including an appeal; (2) representing a client in a case contesting an administrative agency's decision; (3) providing legal advice to criminal suspects, acting for a client in connection with an appeal or prosecution, applying for bail, representing a defendant or victim in a criminal case; and (4) representing a client in an arbitration. For foreign legal service providers engaged in activities such as those listed in China's GATS schedule, the foreign legal service providers would determine the appropriate charges and fees which would not be subject to government pricing or guidance pricing.
58. The representative of China noted that regulations also existed for the other services included in Annex 4. Government pricing and guidance pricing covered auditing services. For architectural services, advisory and pre-design architectural services and contract administration activities were subject to government pricing or government guidance pricing. For engineering services, advisory and consultative services, engineering design services for the construction of foundations and building structures, design services for mechanical and electrical installations for buildings, construction of civil engineering works, and industrial processes and production were subject to government pricing or government guidance pricing. Primary, secondary and higher education services were subject to government pricing.
59. The representative of China further explained that charges for settlement, clearing and transmission services of banks referred to in Annex 4 related to the charges and fees collected by banks for the services provided to enterprises and individuals when the banks conducted currency payments and transmission and fund settlements by using clearance methods such as bills and notes, collections and acceptances. These mainly included commission charges of bills, cashier's cheques, cheques, remittances, entrusted collections of payment, and collections and acceptances of banks.
60. The representative of China confirmed that it would publish in the official journal the list of goods and services subject to state pricing and changes thereto, together with price-setting mechanisms and policies. The Working Party took note of these commitments.
61. The representative of China confirmed that the official journal providing price information was the Pricing Monthly of the People's Republic of China, published in Beijing. It was a monthly magazine listing all products and services priced by the State. He further stated that China would continue to further its price reform, adjusting the catalogue subject to state pricing and further liberalize its pricing policies.
62. The representative of China further confirmed that price controls would not be used for purposes of affording protection to domestic industries or services providers. The Working Party took note of this commitment.
63. Some members of the Working Party expressed a concern that China could maintain prices below market-based ones in order to limit imports.
64. In response, the representative of China confirmed that China would apply its current price controls and any other price controls upon accession in a WTO-consistent fashion, and would take account of the interests of exporting WTO Members as provided for in Article III:9 of the GATT 1994. He also confirmed that price controls would not have the effect of limiting or otherwise impairing China's market-access commitments on goods and services. The Working Party took note of these commitments.
8. Competition Policy
65. The representative of China noted that the Government of China encouraged fair competition and was against acts of unfair competition of all kinds. The Law of the People's Republic of China on Combating Unfair Competition, promulgated on 2 September 1993 and implemented on 1 December 1993, was the basic law to maintain the order of competition in the market. In addition, the Price Law, the Law on Tendering and Bidding, the Criminal Law and other relevant laws also contained provisions on anti-monopoly and unfair competition. China was now formulating the Law on Anti-Monopoly.
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