China wary of fresh WTO proposals

Beijing, July 25:

China today gave a lukewarm response to new proposals on agriculture and industry tariffs aimed at restarting stalled global trade talks.

The World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) chief agriculture negotiator last week proposed in Geneva that trade distorting farm export subsidies be cut to below $16.2 billion a year, compared with $19 billion now.

The recommendations are aimed at unravelling nearly six years of deadlock in the Doha Development Round of trade liberalisation talks, launched in the Qatari capital in 2001, and at brokering a compromise among the 150 WTO members. China’s commerce ministry said today the proposals were a first step. “The proposals are positive to moving the multi-lateral ta-lks forward but there are still a few improvements to be made in content,” spoke-sman Wang Xinpei said.

Wang said China was also studying the suggested proposals to reduce industrial tariffs charged by 27 developing nations to less than 23 per cent.

Last week, Brazil said the fresh proposals for a deal on agriculture and industry tariffs were a step forward while India believes said it was a good basis for further discussion. China as a global commercial power has remained suprisingly reticent in the WTO, drawing criticism as it has allowed Brazil and India to spearhead the interests of developing nations around the world.

Beijing, which joined the WTO in late 2001, has also been singled out by the United States and the European Union for its industrial subsidies, intellectual property rights protection and customs duties on spare parts for cars.

China blocks complaints:

GENEVA: China has blocked the establishment of a WTO investigation into US and Mexican allegations of subsidies for a range of Chinese industries, officials said. But investigative panels examining US and Mexican arguments will almost certainly be established at the next meeting in September of the WTO’s dispute settlement body. Under WTO rules, a second request for a formal investigation is automatically granted. The US accuses Beijing of using WTO-prohibited tax br-eaks to encourage Chine-se firms to export more to the US while imposing tax and tariff penalties to limit purchases of US products in China. — AP