EU: WTO-Beitritt Chinas bis Ende 2000!!

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EU: WTO-Beitritt Chinas bis Ende 2000!! Trader

EU: WTO-Beitritt Chinas bis Ende 2000!!

BEIJING, Oct 23 (Reuters) - The European Union will work hard to help China become a member of the World Trade Organisation by the end of the year, EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said on Monday.

Lamy said meetings with Chinese Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng and Premier Zhu Rongji had helped clarify issues stalling multilateral talks in Geneva on China's entry to the WTO.

"The Chinese President (Jiang Zemin) and prime minister have said that their wish was that this could be done before the end of the year. We will work hard in that direction," Lamy told Reuters in an interview.

He denied China was dragging its feet in order to give state firms more time to prepare for Beijing's entry.

"Nobody is dragging feet or looking for time," he said. "We all know that the sooner the better."

Although some problems remained, the Chinese leadership now had a road map to resolve areas of disagreement both with the EU and at the multilateral level, Lamy said.

"There still are some problems, but it's urgent and we both want to settle them..." he said.

Major sticking points at the bilateral level included the granting of pledged insurance licences to European companies and distribution, he said.

But Lamy added such issues could be resolved.

"Basically, on the bilateral side, we still have a few wording formulas to find so that the commitment that the Chinese side has taken for insurance licences and access to distribution will be definitely settled," he said.


Lamy told a news conference later he was confident China would grant promised licences to European insurers by its entry.

China agreed to issue seven licences within 60 days under a WTO deal reached with the EU in May.

But when the deadline passed in July, only two had been issued -- to Assicurazioni Generali SpA of Italy and ING Groep NV of the Netherlands.

Lamy said other outstanding issues were "not very sexy" technical details, but he highlighted transparency of legislation and industry regulation as areas China could improve to avoid trade disputes early in its life in the WTO.

The EU had asked China to rank its priorities for multilateral negotiations to help solve political problems holding up China's entry, Lamy told Reuters. He gave no details.

"I think we agree on the principles, we agree on the direction," Lamy said. "The contract has been written, it's sometimes the fine print."

Lamy was due to meet Shi again on Tuesday morning to review progress of technical talks before leaving China.

08:40 10-23-00

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