Deal opens Chinese markets to the world

PEKING AND Washington ended 13 years of fitful negotiations on China's entry into the World Trade Organisation yesterday with an agreement that will open a market of 1.3 billion consumers if finalised.

Both President Bill Clinton and his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, hailed the deal paving the way to Peking's membership of the WTO, as a "win-win" arrangement.

As negotiators from both sides celebrated with champagne a successful end of six days and nights of hard bargaining in Peking, China also expressed optimism that it could gain membership to the world body before the end of the year.

Trade officials in Washington and Geneva, however, are less confident of this. The major obstacle to that goal is the European Union, which still has to conclude its bilateral deal on Peking's WTO entry.

But diplomats in the Chinese capital said few issues remained outstanding after Washington's deal, and negotiations with Europe would resume on Friday.

Once in the global trading body, China will have to cut its import tariffs by a quarter, and open its markets to American banks, telecommunications firms, car financers, insurers and Hollywood film distributors. Foreigners will be able to invest in Chinese Internet companies, reversing a ban by Peking.

The deal sent stock prices in Hong Kong soaring to their highest level in more than two years, as investors looked to further integration into the world markets from China.

The US trade representative Charlene Barshefsky, who signed the agreement in Peking with China's Foreign Trade Minister, Shi Guangsheng, said the deal went further than providing access to China's 1.3 billion consumers and had political value in cementing shaky bilateral ties.

"This deal will help regularise trade between our two countries, assist in ongoing reform in China and act as an anchor for Sino-US ties, which are complex and fraught with difficulties," she said. "It will also strengthen the rule of law and basic rules of transparency in China which are critical to creating a more full-bodied and robust legal system in China."

The deal is good news for Mr Clinton, who had been criticised by business for walking away from a similar deal in April. "I think this is a good agreement for China, for America and for the world," he said at a press conference in Turkey, where he is attending an international summit. Mr Clinton must now persuade a hostile Congress to give China normal trade access to the US. Under US law, the Congress must vote each year on whether or not to give China "most favoured nation" status, which accords it the trade privileges given to WTO members. Unless Republicans can be persuaded to change this, trade between the US and China will continue to be hostage each year to angry debates.

Negotiators from both sides raced against the clock to hammer out a deal so that China could enter the body before a 30 November deadline, when ministers of the WTO's 134 member states meet in Seattle to launch a new trade round. Given the remaining agreements - with several developing countries as well as the EU and Canada - the documentation that must be completed and the need for ratification by China, it is still unlikely China will be a member of the WTO before 2000.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers