China hopes to end 14 years of World Trade Organization negotiations in January and formally enter the global trade body within months, chief WTO negotiator Long Yongtu said Thursday.
"Actually the negotiating partners participating in China's WTO accession talks all have the political will to resolve this issue, so of course the next round will be very arduous negotiations," said Long, assistant trade minister.
"We hope that these next talks will be very, very important talks," he said, after a signing ceremony with Japanese ambassador to China, Sakutaro Tanino.
The latest round of talks in China's drawn-out efforts to join the WTO are set to start on January 10 at the WTO headquarters in Geneva.
Long said earlier this week in Hong Kong that he hoped the talks would be concluded by January 20, before US President-elect George Bush is inaugurated.
China's formal entry should come several months after the conclusion of negotiations, he said Thursday
"If we can solve all the practical issues in the talks, and we still have a lot of technical work to do ... then it will take a couple of months to finish this," he told journalists.
Following the completion of negotiations, WTO members will need to review all the documents associated with China's entry, while some members will need final approval from their parliaments or governments before the WTO secretariat officially announces accession, Long said.
China's entry into the WTO will herald a host of market openings for foreign companies, as well as tariff cuts on foreign imports -- BEIJING (AFP)
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