China/EU See Progress on WTO Admission

June 25, 2001

Chinese and European Union negotiators both expressed optimism that talks, scheduled for the end of the week in Geneva, would finally see a breakthrough in China’s application to join the World Trade Organization.

Meetings last week between the EU’s chief negotiator, Pascal Lamy and China’s Deputy Trade Minister, Long Yongtu, produced a number of compromises, similar to those reached earlier with U.S. trade representatives. While the question of farm price supports, and tariff barriers were the main areas where agreement was reached, insurance companies and brokers will also be encouraged by the apparent breakthrough.

While details haven’t been made available, spokesmen have indicated that China has committed to issue licenses within two months and register companies that qualify to do business in the country under international rules. Insurers will also have more freedom to form partnerships with Chinese companies.

According to a report in London’s Financial Times, upon China’s accession to the WTO, “European insurance brokers will be able to operate in the aviation, maritime and transport sectors in China.” The rules on assets and the conditions for entry will be simplified and set at a “reasonable level.”

Trade representatives now have hopes of ending the protracted negotiations with the Chinese in time to allow the country’s admission to the WTO before the next scheduled plenary session scheduled to convene in Qatar in November.

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