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IP/01/1289

Brussels, September 19, 2001

Commission approves the terms of accession of China and Taiwan(1) to WTO

Today, the Commission approved the terms of accession of the People's Republic of China to the World Trade Organisation. These results will now be transmitted to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament for formal adoption. Welcoming the decision Trade Commissioner, Pascal Lamy said "these terms represent a balanced and ambitious package of market opening commitments, which will bring substantial benefits to China and Taiwan as well as to their WTO trading partners. In order that China and Taiwan may join the WTO as soon as possible, we have immediately taken all necessary internal procedural measures to this end."

In view of the importance of China's entry into the world trading system, it has been agreed that the approval of the Council should be enshrined in a formal Decision, by unanimity following the consultation of the European Parliament. This procedure contrasts with that used for previous accessions to the WTO, for which the requisite unanimous approval has simply been registered in the minutes of Council meetings. Securing China's entry into the WTO has been a key trade policy goal of the Commission and Member States for many years. This agreement to open and modernise China's market will create major new opportunities for EU firms to export to, and do business in, the world's most populous country. For China, it will be the crowning achievement of over two decades of carefully managed reform and opening to the outside world. It will mark the beginning of a new era, in which China's commitment to the international economic system will no longer be experimental, but enshrined in law.

Background

China applied to join the WTO's predecessor, the GATT, in 1986; the detailed conditions of entry have been the subject of active negotiations since 1995. The Commission reached bilateral agreement with China on market access issues of foremost importance to the EU on 19 May 2000. Member States unanimously endorsed the results of these negotiations in the General Affairs Council. Since that time a multilateral Working Party has been finalising the horizontal undertakings, which will help to ensure that this unprecedented access to China's growing market is effective, uniform and reliable in practice. The working party finished its deliberations last Monday.

The detailed terms of China's and Taiwan's accession are in the form of schedules of commitments in the fields of industrial goods, agricultural products, services, and a number of notification annexes (covering matters such as domestic industrial and agricultural support schemes, state trading regimes applicable to certain products), as well as the two umbrella documents just agreed through multilateral negotiations in Geneva (the Protocol of Accession and Working Party Report).

More details on trade relations between the EU and China can be found on the following web site: http://ec.europa.eu/trade/bilateral/china/china.htm

Details on the terms of accession can be found on the following web pages:

http://ec.europa.eu/trade/pdf/acs_china.pdf

and

http://ec.europa.eu/trade/pdf/acs_taiwan.pdf

See also: IP/01/1276, IP/01/833, IP/00/1227 and MEMO/00/67

(1) The negotiation result applies to the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (Chinese Taipei)


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