UPDATE – EU/China WTO Negotiations

April 13, 2000

Following the latest failure to reach agreement with his Chinese counterparts, Chief EU negotiator, Pascal Lamy, returned to Brussels for consultations with EU officials. He is reportedly seeking a broader mandate for future talks.

“It’s a question of my negotiating authority,” Lamy told the BBC. “We need an institutional mandate from the European Council of Ministers and the European Parliament to continue.”

Both sides were reportedly seeking greater flexibility concerning the outstanding issues, mainly tariffs on European agricultural products, telecommunications and life insurance. The EU wants insurers to be able to enter into equal partnerships with their Chinese counterparts, rather than the 49/51 percent the U.S. accepted in its WTO agreement with China. Despite the repeated failure to reach agreement, both sides remained outwardly optimistic.

Chinese Foreign Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng was quoted by Reuters News Agency as saying, “I believe China will reach an agreement on WTO with the EU and this will not hinder China’s entry into the WTO.” Meanwhile Lamy stated that he didn’t know when he would be returning to Beijing, but was quoted in the same dispatch as saying “The sooner, the better.”

So far no new date has been set, and China’s entry into the WTO this year remains in doubt.

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