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Mon, Oct 30, 2006 - Page 11 News List

China is `playing the game' at the WTO, Lamy says

AFP , GENEVA

China is "playing the game" on opening its domestic market following accession to the WTO in 2001, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said in a newspaper interview.

Lamy told the Swiss newspaper Le Temps that China was now more exposed to pressure from the US and EU over potential shortcomings because of the end of its five-year transition period.

But he underlined that the Chinese had the same rights within the WTO's organized free trade system.

"Are [they] playing the game on lowering tariffs or opening up their market? Yes. They have done the work they pledged to do," Lamy added.

"In a country with 1.3 billion inhabitants, does every municipal authority or every border post follow the rules to the letter? Maybe not," he said in the interview.

On Friday, the US and EU accused China of failing to come clean over the subsidies it pays to industry during a review by a WTO committee. The EU said that there were substantial omissions.

State subsidies for the industrial sector are prohibited under WTO rules, and China is committed to eliminate them under its accession agreement.

During the committee meeting, China called on its partners to acknowledge the "enormous" difficulties involved in assembling all the data from authorities at several levels, trade sources said.

In response to claims that China was not playing a prominent role in global trade talks like the US, EU, Brazil and India, the WTO chief said the Chinese were "in there."

"You don't see it because they negotiate in a less visible way than other countries," Lamy said.

"They place less importance on posture and more on the result. They spend a lot of time watching the waves and currents and then throw their board in at the chosen moment so as not to lose face," he added.

Separately, Lamy said a decision by US Congress next spring on farm subsidies will be decisive for stalled global trade talks.

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