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Monday, 10 December, 2001, 15:33 GMT
End in sight for Japan trade row
Chinese cyclists pass McDonalds sign
China is set to join the WTO on Tuesday
A bitter trade row between Japan and China could end within days.

Trade ministers from the two sides are meeting in Beijing, following two days of talks last week.

Both sides say they want to end the dispute before China formally joins the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Tuesday.

The dispute flared up in April when Japan slapped 256% import tariffs on a range of Chinese agricultural exports, including mushrooms, leeks, and straw, worth $100m a year.

Beijing retaliated by imposing punitive tariffs on Japanese cars, mobile phones and air conditioners, worth $700m a year.

Charlene Barshefsky
Charlene Barshefsky inks the deal that paved the way for China's WTO membership
The Japanese government said the tariffs were a temporary measure sanctioned under the World Trade Organisation's "safeguard clause".

This permits WTO members to give domestic producers limited protection against a sudden surge of cheap imports.

Japan is China's single largest trade partner. Trade between the two countries has boomed in the past 10 years, reaching $83bn in 2000.

Julian Jessop, chief economist at Standard Chartered Bank believes that Japan's strongest argument is that unless China extends a helping hand, Japanese economic weakness could drag the whole region down.

"Longer term, China of course is a massive competitor, there is hardly a single country in Asia that has lower unit labour costs than China does," he said.

Julian Jessop, chief economist Standard Chartered
"I think Japan in the long run has more to lose"
See also:

10 Nov 01 | Business
China admitted to WTO
31 Oct 01 | Business
China Japan trade row rumbles on
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