VII. OTHER ISSUES
322. Members of the Working Party requested that China submit the notifications required in the Draft Protocol and Report to the WTO body with a mandate covering the subject of the notification. The representative of China confirmed that China would submit its notifications to these bodies, consistent with Section 18.1 and Annex 1A of the Draft Protocol. The Working Party took note of this commitment.
2. Special Trade Arrangements
323. Some members of the Working Party raised specific concerns in relation to some of China's special trade arrangements, including barter trade arrangements, with third countries and separate customs territories, which those members considered not to be in conformity with WTO requirements. In response, the representative of China recalled the commitment undertaken by China in Section 4 of the Draft Protocol.
324. Some members of the Working Party expressed concern about the lack of transparency regarding the laws, regulations and other measures that applied to matters covered in the WTO Agreement and the Draft Protocol. In particular, some members noted the difficulty in finding and obtaining copies of regulations and other measures undertaken by various ministries as well as those taken by provincial and other local authorities. Transparency of regulations and other measures, particularly of sub-national authorities, was essential since these authorities often provided the details on how the more general laws, regulations and other measures of the central government would be implemented and often differed among various jurisdictions. Those members emphasized the need to receive such information in a timely fashion so that governments and traders could be prepared to comply with such provisions and could exercise their rights in respect of implementation and enforcement of such measures. The same members emphasized the importance of such pre-publication to enhancing secure, predictable trading relations. Those members noted the development of the Internet and other means to ensure that information from all government bodies at all levels could be assembled in one place and made readily available. The creation and maintenance of a single, authoritative journal and enquiry point would greatly facilitate dissemination of information and help promote compliance.
325. In response, the representative of China noted that the Government of China regularly issued publications providing information on China's foreign trade system, such as the: "Almanac of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade" and "The Bulletin of MOFTEC" published by MOFTEC; "Statistical Yearbook of China", published by the State Statistical Bureau; "China's Customs Statistics (Quarterly)", edited and published by the Customs. China's laws and regulations of the State Council relating to foreign trade were all published, as were rules issued by departments. Such laws, regulations and rules were available in the "Gazette of the State Council", the "Collection of the Laws and Regulations of the People's Republic of China" and the "MOFTEC Gazette". The administrative regulations and directives relating to foreign trade were also published on MOFTEC's official website (https://www.moftec.gov.cn) and in periodicals.
326. He further noted that there were no forex restrictions affecting import or export. Information on forex measures was published by the SAFE and was available on SAFE's website (https://www.safe.gov.cn) and via the news media.
327. The representative of China noted that information concerning the administration of imports and exports would be published in the "International Business" newspaper and the "MOFTEC Gazette".
328. He also noted that information on China's customs laws and regulations, import and export duty rates, and customs procedures was published in the "Gazette of the State Council" and in the press media, and was available upon request. The procedures concerning application of duty rates, customs value and duty determination, drawback and duty recovery, as well as the procedures concerning duty exemptions and reduction, were also published. Customs also published monthly customs statistics, calculated according to country of origin and final destination, on the basis of eight-digit HS levels.
329. The representative of China noted that any bilateral trade agreements concluded between China and its trading partners, and protocols on the exchange of goods negotiated under them were published in "The Treaty Series of the PRC". He also noted that the "Directory of China's Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Enterprises" and "China's Foreign Trade Corporations and Organizations" were two publications which identified foreign trade corporations and other enterprises in China engaged in foreign trade.
330. The representative of China stated that the full listing of official journals was as follows: Gazette of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China; Gazette of the State Council of the People's Republic of China; Collection of the Laws of the People's Republic of China; Collection of the Laws and Regulations of the People's Republic of China; Gazette of MOFTEC of the People's Republic of China; Proclamation of the People's Bank of the People's Republic of China; and Proclamation of the Ministry of Finance of the People's Republic of China.
331. The representative of China confirmed that publication of all laws, regulations and other measures pertaining to or affecting trade in goods, services, TRIPS or the control of forex would include the effective date of these measures. It would also include the products and services affected by a particular measure, identified by appropriate tariff line and CPC classification. The Working Party took note of these commitments.
332. The representative of China confirmed that China would publish in the official journal, by appropriate classification and by service where relevant, a list of all organizations, including those organizations delegated such authority from the national authorities, that were responsible for authorizing, approving or regulating services activities whether through grant of licence or other approval. Procedures and the conditions for obtaining such licences or approval would also be published. The Working Party took note of these commitments.
333. The representative of China confirmed that none of the information required by the WTO Agreement or the Draft Protocol to be disclosed would be withheld as confidential information except for those reasons identified in Section 2(C) of the Draft Protocol or unless it would demonstrably prejudice the legitimate commercial interests of particular enterprises, public or private. The Working Party took note of this commitment.
334. The representative of China confirmed that China would make available to WTO Members translations into one or more of the official languages of the WTO all laws, regulations and other measures pertaining to or affecting trade in goods, services, TRIPS or the control of forex, and to the maximum extent possible would make these laws, regulations and other measures available before they were implemented or enforced, but in no case later than 90 days after they were implemented or enforced. The Working Party took note of these commitments.
335. Members of the Working Party also requested that China set up an enquiry point where information relating to all laws, regulations, judicial decisions and administrative rulings of general application and other measures pertaining to or affecting trade in goods, services, TRIPS or the control of forex could be obtained.
336. The representative of China confirmed that China would establish or designate one or more enquiry points where all information relating to the laws, regulations and other measures pertaining to or affecting trade in goods, services, TRIPS or the control of forex, as well as the published texts, could be obtained and would notify the WTO of any enquiry point and its responsibility. The information would include the names of national or sub-national authorities (including contact points) responsible for implementing a particular measure. The Working Party took note of these commitments.
4. Government Procurement
337. The representative of China stated that in order to promote China's government procurement regime, the Ministry of Finance promulgated the Interim Regulations on Government Procurement in April 1998. The Interim Regulations were stipulated in line with the spirit of the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement ("GPA") and on the basis of the relevant provisions of the United Nations Model Law on Procurement of Goods, Construction and Services while making reference to the laws and regulations of some WTO Members on government procurement. The policy and procedures regarding government procurement provided for therein were consistent with international practice. China stuck to the fundamental principles of being open, fair, equitable, efficient and in the public interest when carrying out government procurement. At present, China was formulating its Government Procurement Law.
338. Some members of the Working Party stated that China should become a Party to the GPA and that prior to its accession to the GPA, China should conduct all government procurement in a transparent and non-discriminatory manner. Those members noted that China's public entities engaged exclusively in commercial activities would not be conducting government procurement and thus laws, regulations and other measures regulating these entities' procurement practices would be fully subject to WTO requirements.
339. The representative of China stated that China intended to become a Party to the GPA and that until such time, all government entities at the central and sub-national level, as well as any of its public entities other than those engaged in exclusively commercial activities, would conduct their procurement in a transparent manner, and provide all foreign suppliers with equal opportunity to participate in that procurement pursuant to the principle of MFN treatment, i.e., if a procurement was opened to foreign suppliers, all foreign suppliers would be provided with equal opportunity to participate in that procurement (e.g., through the bidding process). Such entities' procurements would be subject only to laws, regulations, judicial decisions, administrative rulings of general application, and procedures (including standard contract clauses) which had been published and made available to the public. The Working Party took note of these commitments.
340. Noting China's intention to become a Party to the GPA, some members of the Working Party stated that China should, upon accession, become an observer to the GPA, and should initiate negotiations for membership in the Agreement by tabling an Appendix 1 offer within two years of accession.
341. The representative of China responded that China would become an observer to the GPA upon accession to the WTO Agreement and initiate negotiations for membership in the GPA by tabling an Appendix 1 offer as soon as possible. The Working Party took note of these commitments.
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