China to help push forward Doha Round talks, says finance minister

China will continue to help push forward the Doha Round trade talks and work to safeguard the multilateral trade system, Minister of Finance Jin Renqing said in Beijing on Monday.

In talks with visiting World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy, Jin said that China will make further contributions to the Doha Round talks, and that the country has honored commitments made before it joined the WTO in 2001 by slashing tariffs and further opening its markets.

China's tariff duties on non-farm produce have dropped to 8.9 percent in 2007 from 42 percent in 1992 and those on farm produce have been cut to 15.3 percent this year from 54 percent in 2001, according to the Ministry of Finance. Globally, tariffs on agricultural products currently average 62 percent.

The WTO chief said the Doha talks are deadlocked on questions of agricultural subsidies, and tariff cuts on agricultural and non-agricultural products.

The Doha Round was launched in 2001 with the aim of boosting global economy and helping poor countries by instituting fairer trade conditions. But it has missed several deadlines mainly due to sharp differences on agricultural subsidies and tariffs.

Lamy hoped that China would introduce more flexible policies on its sensitive farm produce imports and play a more important role in pushing forward the trade talks.

He also expressed concerns about China's market access rules for some sensitive non-agricultural products and urged more cooperation in the Doha talks among China, the United States and the European Union.

Minister Jin said the pressure on China in the agricultural trade talks should be eased since the country, with nearly 900 million rural people, has made hefty cuts to import tariffs on farm produce and has a long-standing trade deficit in farm produce.

The developed countries should play a leading role in the Doha trade talks, and China will work with other developing countries to bolster support for the multilateral talks, said Jin.

The minister also said the specific concerns of Recently Acceded Members (RAMs) should be effectively addressed in the trade talks.

Lamy, who arrived in Beijing on Sunday, will meet with officials in charge of commerce, finance, agriculture, intellectual property, and the central bank during his four-day visit.

Before leaving for China, Lamy said he would bring a message to Chinese officials that developing countries should step up their contribution to the trade talks so that they can be concluded in the next six to nine months.

Source: Xinhua



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