February 23, 2000
BEIJING, FEB 22: China and India on Tuesday signed an agreement on China’sentry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) amid China’s ongoing WTO talkswith the European Union, the Chinese side confirmed.
China and India signed the WTO pact on Tuesday afternoon, an official withthe Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (MOFTEC) said.China’s Foreign Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng and India’s Minister ofCommerce and Industry Murasoli Maran signed the documents on behalf of theirrespective governments, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Maran, leading a high-powered Indian delegation, said that New Delhi fullysupports Beijing’s entry into WTO and expressed confidence that both thecountries could work in tandem to push for the rights of developingcountries.
"After China enters the WTO, we will cooperate on issues of mutual interest.China’s entry into WTO would strengthen the world trading system and alsoworld trade," he said.
Maran said the negotiations went off without a hitch, unlike a similaragreement between the US and China last year, which was a long-drawn process.An Indian diplomat said on condition of anonymity China has agreed to aseries of tariff reductions on Indian goods.
"China has agreed to lower general tariff rates for a range of agricultural,industrial and marine products from about 20 per cent to 10 per cent," hesaid. Shi also noted that the two sides reached the agreement after"friendly consultations." China appreciates India’s support on Beijing’sentry into WTO, he said, adding the agreement would provide further impetusto Sino-Indian trade ties.
Shi said the two countries would be able to substantially increase bilateraltrade from the present figure of two billion dollars per annum.
With today’s agreement, China has just one major hurdle – its largesttrading partner European union with whom it must a sign similar tradeagreement to pave the way for its entry into the world body. China has tosign bilateral trade pacts with all 135 WTO members before its 14-year bidto enter the world body comes through.
MOFTEC officials were tight-lipped on the negotiations with the delegationfrom 15-member EU.
A foreign ministry spokesman, while confirming that technical-level talkswere on, refused to divulge any details.
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