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The BBC's Andrew Walker
"By some measures China has the second largest economy in the world"
 real 56k

Friday, 27 October, 2000, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
China and Europe reach WTO deal
Stabucks Beijing
China has already opened up to foreign businesses
By economics correspondent Andrew Walker

The EU and China have resolved their remaining disagreements over China's prospective membership of the World Trade Organisation, a European Union spokesman has said.

The two sides reached an agreement in May, but a number of issues subsequently emerged over how the deal would be implemented.

The EU insisted on more talks about how China would licence foreign insurance companies and about the retailing and distribution of cars.

A spokesman for EU Trade Representative Pascal Lamy says these issues have now been resolved.

Second-largest economy

By some measures China is the second-largest economy in the world.

It is growing rapidly and it has an increasingly large role in international trade.

But it is not a member of the World Trade Organisation, a major gap in the WTO's coverage of global commerce.

China has been trying for more than a decade to get into the WTO and its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Bilateral deals

Every existing WTO member is entitled to insist on having a bilateral trade deal with new applicants.

The European Union thought it had concluded a deal last May, but needed until this month to resolve the insurance and automobile matters.
Pascal Lamy
EU Trade Representative Pascal Lamy: Issues have been resolved

A handful of other bilateral deals remain to be done - with Mexico, a few central American countries and New Zealand, which wants better access to China for its wool.

But the most complex work remaining concerns China's own preparations to bring itself into line with WTO rules.

It is a time-consuming exercise which covers a range of very technical issues such as customs procedures.

It will be very difficult for China and the WTO to finish it this year.

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See also:

12 Oct 00 | Business
China tries to clear WTO hurdles
11 Oct 00 | Business
Why US-China trade matters
26 Sep 00 | Business
China's WTO entry one step away
27 Jul 00 | Business
China wins Ecuador trade approval
19 May 00 | Business
EU-China agree trade deal
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