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WTO calls on China to help restart trade talks (11/10/03)

    Supachai Panitchpakdi, director-general of the World Trade Organization, said in Beijing on Nov. 10 that the organization hoped China could work as a bridge between developing and developed countries to help restart the new round of trade negotiations.

    "That doesn't mean that China is going stepping outside of its developing country status. China is still a developing country and we admit to that," said Supachai at a press conference in the afternoon after his meeting with Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi in the morning.

    "But it has a special status, because it is rapidly becoming a very, very powerful player in international trade," said the director-general. "We need China's strong role to motivate other countries to re-engage in the negotiation as soon as they can."

    Supachai didn't say whether the Chinese side agreed with this role or not, but he said what Chinese leaders said in the meeting with him showed that they understood clearly China's special status.

    Supachai cited agriculture as one area that he hoped China could use its influence.

    He said China's efforts in its agricultural reform should be communicated to other developing countries.

    "If China could convince the other developing countries to participate in the strong liberalization efforts in agriculture, that would send a strong signal to the rest of the community."

    Supachai said China's attitude is "rather flexible" towards issues including trade and investment, trade and competition policy, transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation.

    Supachai said it would be helpful to help countries which try to seek flexible middle ground like China, so that a majority consensus for a final resolution to the issues could be achieved as soon as possible.

    "We view China as an important participant in the Doha Development Agenda," said Supachai, adding that the WTO respects China's achievement in its economy and the country's maintaining of economic openness and its painful institutional adjustment could set as an example for the other developing nations to follow.

 


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