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The BBC's Emma Jane Kirby reports from Geneva
"China's bid to join the WTO is now in its 15th year..."
 real 28k

Tuesday, 3 July, 2001, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
China-WTO major issues 'resolved'
Long Yongtu, head of the Chinese delegation at the WTO
Long Yongtu: Optimistic about Chinese progress at WTO talks
China's chief negotiator Long Yongtu said that "all major issues" had been resolved for his country's entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Mr Long was speaking during a break from talks in Geneva, intended to hammer out the last details of China's obligations before WTO membership can be formalised.

Mr Long said that the two sides had agreed on wording for every aspect of China's entry, although "a few brackets" remained.

The Geneva talks, which began last Thursday, followed China clinching bilateral agreements with the United States and the European Union (EU) last month, removing most major hurdles.

The WTO working party will convene again on Wednesday, when officials hope to begin consolidating individual agreements into a unified text.

Beginning of the end

That will not be the end of the process, which has so far rumbled on for 15 years.

Officials in Geneva said there would have to be another meeting of the WTO party from 16 July to go over the texts after they have been studied by individual countries.

Even then, China's final admission will take several more months, because of the vast amount of documentation that remains to be processed.

The WTO has previously expressed the hope that China can achieve membership before the organisation's next ministerial meeting in November.

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See also:

03 Jul 01 | Business
China and Japan tackle trade row
09 Jun 01 | Business
China and US clinch WTO deal
11 Jan 01 | Business
China reports import surge
01 Mar 01 | Business
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