The annual summit meeting between the Chinese Government and the high level members of the European Union currently taking place in Beijing has so far failed to produce any new breakthrough which would assure China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) by the end of the year.
While EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and EU Commission President Romano Prodi were upbeat in their remarks on Sunday before the actual start of the conference, indicating that few barriers remained, they both hesitated to predict China’s entry by the end of the year.
EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, even seemed to contradict French President Jacques Chirac, who’s attending the conference as President of the EU (France currently holds the rotating authority), saying that no timetable could be fixed ahead of negotiations. Chirac had indicated earlier that China’s entry was “a question of days,” according to an AP report.
One of the more sensitive issues to be resolved is China’s promise to open its markets to EU insurers. Although committed to do so by the accords signed last May, there’s been little progress since in the granting of licenses, and the Chinese have refused to to submit draft regulations to implement the provisions.
In a move apparently calculated to relieve some of the pressure on it from The U.S. as well as the EU, the Financial Times reported that the Beijing government would “invite foreign financial institutions to help manage a potentially huge pool of domestic pension funds.”
In an interview with Liu Zhongli, who heads China’s State Council for restructuring financial systems, the FT reported that the “expertise of foreign financial institutions would allow China to tremendously increase the value of pension funds.” As large insurers run a number of financial service operations, an opening of this market would partially fulfill China’s part of the agreement concerning insurance, and would show its willingness to abide by the accords.
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