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China to join the World Trade Organisation

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton today welcomed the completion of negotiations in Geneva which pave the way for China to join the World Trade Organisation.

Mr Sutton said that, for New Zealand, the ability to negotiate on the basis of rules, rather than economic muscle, was critical.

"China's entry to the WTO will bind it into the rules-based international trading system. And it will strengthen the WTO, which without China cannot truly claim to be a global organisation."

Mr Sutton said it was because of this that New Zealand had long backed China's WTO entry. New Zealand was the first "Western" country to conclude an in-principle bilateral WTO agreement with China in August 1997.

"Now, after fifteen years of negotiations over China's WTO accession, China has agreed with New Zealand and its other trading partners on the all-important detail of its WTO commitments. This paves the way for China's accession."

Mr Sutton said the Government had committed substantial resources to this negotiation, with positive results for New Zealand.

China has committed to: · substantial tariff cuts which, once fully phased in over five years, will add up to at least $48 million per year in duty saved on current New Zealand exports, as well as providing new market opportunities; · improved access for New Zealand service providers in sectors including education, tourism and insurance; · zero export subsidies in agriculture - a key New Zealand objective for all WTO Members; and to · fully implement WTO disciplines on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, which may help resolve a range of issues now constraining New Zealand primary sector exports from meat products to plant products to live animals.

Mr Sutton said a key focus of New Zealand's intensive negotiations with China had been market access for New Zealand wool.

"Our goal has consistently been the introduction of a more market-based system for China's wool imports. "I am now confident that, as part of China's WTO accession, China will put in place a system for wool imports to ensure that trade flows quickly and directly in response to demand.

"This should provide secure access for New Zealand wool exporters, for whom China is the number one market."


ENDS

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