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IP/02/594

Brussels, 19 April 2002

Commission boosts awareness of WTO membership in China

Erkki Liikanen, EU Commissioner responsible for Enterprise and the Information Society, today launched in Shanghai a series of EU-WTO Seminars, aimed at increasing understanding within the Chinese business community on how WTO membership affects the way China deals with the outside world. These seminars, which will be held in different cities of China during the next 18 months, will focus on different aspects and impacts derived from China's accession to the World Trade Organisation.

In his opening speech, delivered at the China-Europe International Business School (CEIBS), Commissioner Liikanen focussed on the impact of WTO on the regulatory environment for businesses. Mr. Liikanen said that WTO membership "will open up unprecedented business opportunities for China and its trading partners, that will in turn smooth the transition from centrally planned to market-driven economy. Enabling Chinese entrepreneurs to take these opportunities could give a huge boost to China's Gross Domestic Product. To achieve this, however, we need a concerted drive to improve the operating environment for businesses and open up markets". EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy added: "China's accession to the WTO was the greatest leap in the organisation's history. We look forward to working together to strengthen the multilateral trading system."

Mr. Liikanen invited Chinese officials and businessmen to share ideas with the EU counterparts and increase mutual understanding of each other's regulatory framework, with the objective of reducing technical barriers, which could still hinder trade and co-operation between both sides, even after WTO accession.

In this context, Mr. Liikanen welcomed the initiative to launch the EU-WTO Seminar series, a project co-organised by the European Commission and the EU-China WTO Accession Programme, the main tool for EU assistance to China on WTO issues. With this new series of seminars, the Chinese business community will be able to benefit from international expertise, and discuss with EU counterparts advantages and challenges ahead.

Mr. Liikanen is visiting China at the invitation of Mr Xu Guanghua, Chinese Minister of Science and Technology. During his stay in Beijing (13-17 April), Mr. Liikanen inaugurated the EU-China Forum on Information Society, which constitutes the largest ever event on scientific and technological co-operation between the EU and China. With more than 700 European participants and 400 Chinese delegates, the Forum included a conference, an exhibition on European IT, and a co-operation agora to stimulate business to business contacts. Mr. Liikanen and Mr. Xu signed a joint declaration aimed at strengthening co-operation in the fields of IT research and development. "Increased co-operation between European and Chinese researchers, scientists and businessmen represents a win-win situation for both sides" said Mr. Liikanen.

Commissioner Liikanen also held talks with various Chinese leaders and opened a "Telecom regulatory workshop" with the Chinese Ministry for Information Industry, and agreed with the State Economic and Trade Commission (SETC) to launch a regular dialogue on enterprise policy matters with a particular emphasis on small and medium-sized enterprises. In Shanghai, he visited the production plants of Volkswagen and Siemens, and held talks with the management of Alcatel, and other representatives of the European business community.

For more information on the EU international co-operation in the field of Information Society :

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/international/index_en.htm.

For information on the Euro-China Co-operation Forum on the Information Society :

http://www.eurochina2002.com/


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