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|Sunday, June 18, 2000, updated at 10:49(GMT+8)|
China Says End in Sight for WTO TalksChina will soon wrap up talks with the last five countries with which it needs to agree terms for its entry to the World Trade Organisation, Foreign Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng said on Friday.
"Relevant talks are now being intensified and all bilateral negotiations will be finished shortly," Shi told a forum on economic globalisation in Beijing.
"I believe it won't be long before China becomes a full member of WTO," he said.
China hopes to join the WTO, which sets global trade rules, this year.
It reached landmark accession agreements with the United States last November and the European Union (EU) in May, clearing the two major hurdles to entry.
But China must still seal trade pacts with a handful of WTO members, at least two of which have specific sectoral concerns, before its 14-year marathon campaign for membership of the world trade body is over.
Shi said China was holding bilateral talks with Mexico, Switzerland, Ecuador, Guatemala and Costa Rica.
Mexican Trade Minister Herminio Blanco said this week a WTO deal was conditional on being able to impose anti-dumping duties on imports of Chinese products which threaten domestic industry, especially the textile, toy and footwear sectors.
In the past, Mexico has sought to protect local companies from what it considers unfair Chinese competition. In 1994, it imposed tariffs of up to 1,300 percent on Chinese shoes, up to 533 percent on clothes and up to 351 percent on toys.
Swiss Economy Minister Pascal Couchepin said last month his country was close to a WTO agreement with Beijing but he was still pressing for further concessions on insurance, financial services and tariffs on watches.
Shi said entry would bring challenges to the weak state sector in the form of new competition, but it would also help boost China's economy and spur reforms.
"China will open wider to the outside world with a more active attitude," he said.
China will open further a number of sectors after WTO entry, including finance, insurance and securities, Shi said.
"China will strictly abide by WTO rules and honour its commitments," he said.
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