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More Transparency Needed From China


China must make its farm sector more transparent and fairer to foreign competition, the United States told the World Trade Organization s agriculture committee Sept. 29, as it reviewed China s first decade in the world trade body.

Despite years of U.S. complaints, China still charged 13 per cent value-added tax on imported wheat, cotton and corn while exempting its own producers of the same agricultural products, the official told the committee, according to a text released by the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

The same was true of agricultural inputs such as seed, pesticide, herbicide, machinery and some fertilizers, the official said.

Chinese government policies had also generated serious concern about sanitary and phytosanitary measures and import licensing.

Although China had taken many steps to conform with WTO rules in the first years after it joined, including cutting tariffs and publishing its laws on trade, there was now a troubling trend towards state intervention, said the U.S. official, whom USTR did not name.

Among the other U.S. worries were China s use of non-tariff barriers to block trade, a quota system that was not transparent, and the fact that it had made no progress in translating its trade laws into other languages.

China had also promised to cap subsidies that distorted trade and production and to eliminate all export subsidies.

It is difficult to provide an assessment of whether China has adhered to these commitments because it appears that, even after 10 years of WTO membership, China has failed to notify all of its subsidies to the WTO, the official said.

The review of China s policies was the last in a decade of scrutiny that China promised to undergo when it joined the WTO in 2001.

Chinese trade officials could not be reached for comment on the U.S. criticisms, but a WTO official said China s representative on the committee promised it would continue to improve market access and increase agricultural trade.

The WTO official, who asked not to be named, said the European Union had also asked China for more transparency, while Japan urged China not to reintroduce export taxes and restrictions.



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