China WTO talks near final stage, Ruggiero says

Negotiation on China’s accession to the World Trade Organization is now approaching its final stage, Renato Ruggiero, director general of the WTO, said Mar. 21 in Tokyo.

Ruggiero, who is on a five-day visit here, made the remark during a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo. Asked about his view on the timing of China’s entry into the Geneva-based trade watchdog, he said, “If I want to be realistic and objective, I can tell you that everyone, including (those) on the Chinese side, prefers not to talk about the date.”

However, he continued to say that the last session of negotiations earlier this month in Geneva was a “very encouraging one” and that the negotiations will be continued in a “positive spirit.” “This is why I can go as far as telling you that it seems to me that we are approaching the final stage of the negotiations,” he said.

He said that the existing members of the WTO hold a fundamental interest in having China, a potentially powerful economy, within the global trade system. At the same time, China, too, has its own interest in becoming a WTO member because that way it can participate in the writing of the rules that govern the system, he said.

If not, China will find itself in a “confrontational situation with the outside world,” he said. He also said it is in the common interest of both WTO members and China that China and other candidate nations be accepted with “good conditions.”