China Threatens to Block Industrial Goods Deal at WTO

Will veto if its standards are not met

China has threatened to veto any proposals on cutting customs tariffs on industrial goods at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) if its requests are not met, trade sources said on Nov. 9. During a meeting of the negotiating group on non-agricultural market access (NAMA), China's delegate said he had received instructions from Beijing to veto any revised text put forward if it fails to meet China's minimum requirements, the sources said.

The move was seen as a bid to put pressure on the negotiations in the Doha Round of trade liberalization talks. But sources said it would be very difficult for China to veto the whole Doha package as Beijing stands to make substantial gains from a successful WTO deal.

Back in July, Stephenson, who is also Canada's ambassador to the WTO, issued draft proposals that called for a cut in industrial tariffs charged by about 30 developing nations to less than 23%. For China, this would mean a cut to between 6.1% and 6.5% on average, from 9% currently.

The EU reacted sharply to the Chinese intervention, warning it could spark "political reactions" given China's weight in the world economy, the sources added. The U.S. did not react directly however, they noted.

Developing and emerging nations in the six-year-old Doha Round of trade talks are seeking cuts in rich country subsidies and in import tariffs for agricultural produced. Developed nations want better access to industrial markets in poorer economies in return.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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