2ND LD: China's WTO entry talks likely to end inconclusive.
(EDS: CLARIFYING WTO CHIEF'S COMMENTS IN LEAD, DATE OF NEGOTIATIONS IN 3RD PARA)
World Trade Organization Director General Mike Moore indicated Tuesday that the ongoing two-week round of working-party negotiations between WTO members and China may not produce a final accord on Beijing's bid to join the world trade body
Trade sources said Moore sounded the prospect during a meeting with Chinese Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng.
If the current round of multilateral talks ends inconclusively Thursday, China's entry within year 2000 would become a race against the clock.
Moore told Shi it was important that ''the next meeting'' between WTO members and China be a ''good'' one, trade sources said.
Moore stressed there has to be a ''political decision'' from both sides to break the impasse.
Known as the WTO ''working party'' on China's accession, some 40 countries, including United States, European Union and Japan, are involved in the negotiation process and must reach a consensus for China to become a WTO member.
The current working-party session, which is aimed at finalizing a protocol of accession and a working-paper report, began Sept. 13 and is scheduled to conclude Thursday.
According to trade sources, differences still exist on ''core issues'' such as anti-dumping measures, reform of China's judicial system and safeguard measures.
Moore noted that China has to work on changing its laws to accommodate WTO standards, trade sources said.
For China's part, Shi expressed ''concerns'' about the ongoing talks, complaining that some working-party members were asking ''more than'' what they had agreed during bilateral negotiations.
Shi also made the point that once China becomes a WTO member, the issue of Taiwan's accession has to be dealt ''carefully,'' the sources said.
China has said Taiwan can become a WTO member as a ''separate customs territory,'' meaning Taiwan can apply its own trade rules. But the mainland also contends Taiwan must be a customs territory ''of China,'' a designation that would put the island under China's sovereignty.
For China to become a member, it has to reach an agreement on accession protocol and the working-party report. The WTO General Council would have to be convened and give its final approval.
After the WTO procedures are over, China needs to go through its own domestic ratification process. China officially becomes a member 30 days after the country deposits the ratification documents to the trade body.
It was unclear when the next round of working-party negotiations would be held. Trade sources said the group's chairman Pierre Girard told delegates Monday that he would compile and analyze all the progress on the final day of the current session and then determine how to proceed.
One diplomat involved in the multilateral negotiations said he saw progress in some areas but two sides were ''still apart in many areas.''
''Once there is a political decision made at high levels, we can work and finish the protocol overnight, if necessary,'' the diplomat said.
Meanwhile, Switzerland and China reached a bilateral agreement Tuesday as part of China's bid to join the WTO, the Swiss government said.
The deal means that Mexico is the sole country that has yet to conclude such a bilateral trade agreement with China.
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|Publication:||Asian Economic News|
|Date:||Oct 2, 2000|
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