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Serious Concern about Some Chinese WTO Compliance

Text: "Serious Concern" about Some Chinese WTO Compliance Efforts (Prepared remarks of Deputy Assistant USTR Freeman March 19)

Deputy Assistant USTR Charles Freeman told a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee March 19 that the Office of the USTR has "found a number of causes for serious concern during China's first year of WTO membership."

In summarizing a USTR report to Congress in December 2002, Freeman noted, "As a general matter, China took positive steps to implement many of its specific WTO commitments during the past year."

In particular, he said the USTR report praised the Chinese government's focus on making the country's laws and regulations WTO-compliant, and its educational campaign to teach government officials and state-owned enterprise managers about both the requirements and the benefits of WTO membership.

He also noted that China has continually "devoted considerable resources to the restructuring of the various government ministries and agencies with a role in overseeing trade in goods and services."

Such restructuring, he added, "should promote WTO compliance."

The USTR report, however, still found the lack of transparency in China as an "area of cross-cutting concern."

With regard to transparency, Freeman said the Bush administration "found China's overall effort to be plagued by uncertainty and a lack of uniformity."

"The Administration is committed to seeking improvements in China's efforts in this area," he added.

Freeman said the report also found "significant problems" with Chinese agricultural, intellectual property rights, and service trade sectors.

The "most troublesome" agricultural issue, according to the report, was China's "inadequate implementation" of its tariff-rate quota commitments for bulk agricultural commodities.

"The lack of effective IPR enforcement remained a major challenge," Freeman said of the report's findings.

"If significant improvements are to be achieved on this front, China will have to devote considerable resources and political will to this problem, and there will continue to be a need for sustained efforts from the United States and other WTO members," he added.

"Meanwhile, concerns arose in many services sectors, principally due to transparency problems and China's use of prudential requirements that exceeded international norms," Freeman said.

"Progress was made in 2002 toward resolving these (service sector) concerns, but much work remains to be done," he added.

For the complete text of Freeman's March 19 remarks, go to:

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