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Sat, Dec 20, 2003 - Page 12 News List

China is moving too slow on WTO trade reforms: US

AFP , WASHINGTON

China has made little progress in lowering trade barriers and implementing proposed reforms promised when it joined the WTO two years ago, the US said on Thursday.

In a 70-page annual report to the US Congress, US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said Beijing's "uneven and incomplete WTO compliance record can no longer be attributed to start-up problems.

"As this years report reveals, while the US-China economic and trade relationship is growing rapidly, there are a number of systemic concerns that remain, making further improvements in that relationship problematic," Zoellick wrote.

He said Washington would prefer to resolve its concerns through talks with China, but "if bilateral efforts are not successful ... the administration is fully prepared to enforce US rights through other means, including dispute resolution at the WTO."

China has become the third-largest US trading partner since it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

But even though US exports to the world's largest country by population have grown by 66 percent over the past three years, the US trade deficit ballooned to a record US$13.57 billion in October.

Zoellick's report said US officials in the Bush administration still remain concerned at China's lack of progress in removing agricultural trade barriers, protecting intellectual property rights and transparency in government.

Beijing has also in the past year begun to use tax policies to favor domestic production and increased its use of industrial policies to aid domestic producers at the expense of importers and foreign businesses operating in China.

"This latter phenomenon is particularly apparent in the automotive sector, where a proposed industrial policy threatens to undercut many US industry gains in China's market," the report said.

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