Beijing makes all-out bid to join GATT in '93

Despite indications that it may take longer, China is doggedly pursuing its goal of becoming a GATT member this year.

Published: Saturday 15 May 1993

Cheap labour: Workers check co BEIJING is making an all-out effort to join the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) by the end of this year, despite indications from US trade representatives that it may take longer. The Chinese have been wooing foreign investors by telling them that their entry to GATT is imminent, but US trade secretary Douglas Newkirk says, "We are a long way from completing the negotiations." He held talks recently with Chinese officials.

China insists, however, that progress was achieved in talks with Newkirk though some Chinese officials criticised Washington for trying to politicise the talks to ensure simultaneous GATT entry for Taiwan.

Developing countries, meanwhile, are setting Third World fraternal compulsions aside and lining up behind the US, afraid of the competition that would ensue because China's production costs would be low. Diplomats note that this would leave China more in need of US support for its membership bid.

Observers say the Chinese attempt to join GATT is politically motivated because it wants to get back into the international fold. Another possible reason, they say, is that the leadership in Beijing sees GATT entry as a means to consolidate the country's economic reform measures.

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