China and Mexico Thrash Out WTO Differences on APEC Sidelines
Chinese and Mexican officials met here Tuesday on the sidelines of the APEC forum to try to iron out differences blocking China's entry to the World Trade Organization.
"We are going to try to sign (an agreement) before the end of the year," Mexico's Vice Trade Minister Luis de la Calle said.
Mexico is the only member of the Geneva-based WTO with which China has not completed bilateral talks to enable its long-awaited accession to the global trade body.
The negotiations were being led by China's Foreign Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng and Mexican Trade Minister Herminio Blanco.
"We are very happy with the protocol you have sent us," Blanco told Shi as they entered the meeting.
The draft protocol from Beijing has formed the basis of informal meetings between Chinese and Mexican officials in Brunei since Friday, on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
"I am very happy with the progress made" by the officials, Blanco said.
But de la Calle, who led the informal talks, said there were some details "about access and other things that still have to be discussed."
China's head WTO negotiator, Long Yongtu, said in Geneva last week that "major progress" had been achieved towards China's accession in talks by a WTO working party.
China must secure a bilateral agreement with Mexico and a "multilateral accession protocol" with the working party, to ensure that countries that did not negotiate bilateral deals with it enjoy the same trade concessions.
"If the WTO members have the political will to wrap up the negotiations at the next session of the working party China will make its best efforts to cooperate in trying to achieve that goal," Long said.
The working party will meet again between December 5 and 8.
Outstanding areas for agreement on the terms of China's WTO membership include farming and industrial policy.
China clinched a critical bilateral WTO agreement with the United States a year ago, and with the European Union last month.
A senior US official attending the APEC forum said: "We certainly have high hopes that China can accede to the WTO very soon.
"We'd be very pleased if it could happen within the next couple of months," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo are among Pacific-rim leaders arriving in Brunei Tuesday for a two-day APEC summit starting Wednesday -- BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (AFP)
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