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
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'