1. At its meeting on 4 March 1987, the Council established a Working Party to examine the request of the Government of the People's Republic of China ("China") (L/6017, submitted on 10 July 1986) for resumption of its status as a GATT contracting party, and to submit to the Council recommendations which may include a Draft Protocol on the Status of China. In a communication dated 7 December 1995, the Government of China applied for accession to the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization ("WTO Agreement") pursuant to Article XII of the WTO Agreement. Following China's application and pursuant to the decision of the General Council on 31 January 1995, the existing Working Party on China's Status as a GATT 1947 Contracting Party was transformed into a WTO Accession Working Party, effective from 7 December 1995. The terms of reference and the membership of the Working Party are reproduced in document WT/ACC/CHN/2/Rev.11 and Corr.1.
2. The Working Party on China's Status as a Contracting Party met on 20 occasions between 1987 and 1995 under the Chairmanship of H.E. Mr. Pierre-Louis Girard (Switzerland). The Working Party on the Accession of China met on 22 March 1996, 1 November 1996, 6 March 1997, 23 May 1997, 1 August 1997, 5 December 1997, 8 April 1998, 24 July 1998, 21 March 2000, 23 June 2000, 27 July 2000, 28 September 2000, 9 November 2000, 8 December 2000, 17 January 2001, 4 July 2001, 20 July 2001 and 17 September 2001 under the same Chairman. At meetings held on 9 November 2000, 8 December 2000 and 17 January 2001, Mr. Paul-Henri Ravier, Deputy Director-General of the WTO, served as Acting Chairman.
1. Documentation Provided
3. The Working Party had before it, to serve as a basis for its discussion, a Memorandum on China's Foreign Trade Regime (L/6125) and questions posed by members of the Working Party on the foreign trade regime of China, together with replies of the Chinese authorities thereto. In addition, the Government of China made available to the Working Party a substantial amount of documentation, which is listed in document WT/ACC/CHN/23/Rev.1.
2. Introductory Statements
4. In statements to the GATT 1947 Working Party and subsequently to the Working Party on the Accession of China, the representative of China stated that China's consistent efforts to resume its status as a contracting party to GATT and accession to the WTO Agreement were in line with its objective of economic reform to establish a socialist market economy as well as its basic national policy of opening to the outside world. China's WTO accession would increase its economic growth and enhance its economic and trade relations with WTO Members.
5. Members of the Working Party welcomed China's accession to the WTO Agreement and considered that its accession would contribute to a strengthening of the multilateral trading system, enhancing the universality of the WTO, bringing mutual benefits to China and to the other Members of the WTO, and ensuring the steady development of the world economy.
6. The representative of China said that China had a territory of 9.6 million square kilometres and, at the end of 1998 a population of 1.25 billion. Since 1979, China had been progressively reforming its economic system, with the objective of establishing and improving the socialist market economy. The reform package introduced in 1994, covering the banking, finance, taxation, investment, foreign exchange ("forex") and foreign trade sectors, had brought about major breakthroughs in China's socialist market economy. State-owned enterprises had been reformed by a clear definition of property rights and responsibilities, a separation of government from enterprise, and scientific management. A modern enterprise system had been created for the state-owned sector, and the latter was gradually getting on the track of growth through independent operation, responsible for its own profits and losses. A nation-wide unified and open market system had been developed. An improved macroeconomic regulatory system used indirect means and market forces to play a central role in economic management and the allocation of resources. A new tax and financial system was functioning effectively. Financial policy had been separated from commercial operations of the central bank, which now focussed on financial regulation and supervision. The exchange rate of the Chinese currency Renminbi (also "RMB") had been unified and remained stable. The Renminbi had been made convertible on current account. Further liberalization of pricing policy had resulted in the majority of consumer and producer products being subject to market prices. The market now played a much more significant role in boosting supply and meeting demand.
7. The representative of China further noted that as a result, in 1999, the Gross Domestic Product ("GDP") of China totaled RMB 8.2054 trillion yuan (approximately US$ 990 billion). In 1998, the net per capita income for rural residents was RMB 2,160 yuan (approximately US$ 260), and the per capita dispensable income for urban dwellers was RMB 5,425 yuan (approximately US$ 655). In recent years, foreign trade had grown substantially. In 1999, total imports and exports of goods reached US$ 360.65 billion, of which exports stood at US$ 194.93 billion, and imports, US$ 165.72 billion. Exports from China in 1998 accounted for 3.4 per cent of the world's total.
8. The representative of China stated that although important achievements have been made in its economic development, China was still a developing country and therefore should have the right to enjoy all the differential and more favourable treatment accorded to developing country Members pursuant to the WTO Agreement.
9. Some members of the Working Party indicated that because of the significant size, rapid growth and transitional nature of the Chinese economy, a pragmatic approach should be taken in determining China's need for recourse to transitional periods and other special provisions in the WTO Agreement available to developing country WTO Members. Each agreement and China's situation should be carefully considered and specifically addressed. In this regard it was stressed that this pragmatic approach would be tailored to fit the specific cases of China's accession in a few areas, which were reflected in the relevant provisions set forth in China's Draft Protocol and Working Party Report. Noting the preceding statements, Members reiterated that all commitments taken by China in her accession process were solely those of China and would prejudice neither existing rights and obligations of Members under the WTO Agreement nor on-going and future WTO negotiations and any other process of accession. While noting the pragmatic approach taken in China's case in a few areas, Members also recognized the importance of differential and more favourable treatment for developing countries embodied in the WTO Agreement.
10. At the request of interested members of the Working Party, the representative of China agreed that China would undertake bilateral market access negotiations with respect to industrial and agricultural products, and initial commitments in services.
11. Some members of the Working Party stated that in addition to undertaking market access negotiations in goods and services, close attention should also be paid to China's multilateral commitments, in particular China's future obligations under the Multilateral Agreements on Trade in Goods and the General Agreement on Trade in Services ("GATS"). This was of vital importance to ensure that China would be able to take full benefit of WTO membership as quickly as possible, as well as to ensure that the value of any market access conditions undertaken were not adversely affected by inconsistent measures such as some types of non-tariff measures.
12. The representative of China stated that the achievement of balance between rights and obligations was the basic principle in its negotiation of WTO accession.
13. Some members of the Working Party expressed concern over discrepancies in statistical information supplied by the Government of China on trade volume/value. Members and China pursued this issue separately in an Informal Group of Experts on Export Statistics.
14. The Working Party reviewed the foreign trade regime of China. The discussions and commitments resulting therefrom are contained in paragraphs 15-342 below and in the Draft Protocol of Accession ("Draft Protocol"), including the annexes.
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