Talks Stall on Admitting China to GATT

CHINA'S effort to enter the global free trade arena has run into tough international demands in the first negotiations with the United States since 1989.

The impasse over the Chinese application to join the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade - the set of agreements governing the flow of world trade - makes it unlikely Beijing will achieve contracting status in GATT by year-end as hoped for, the top US negotiator said March 2.

W. Douglas Newkirk, assistant US trade representative for GATT, said at the end of two days of talks here that China fails to meet GATT criteria, in particular a commitment to free-market pricing and acceptance of an unprecedented system of safeguards against surges in exports. "If they want to agree to very tough obligations, they can [join] very quickly. If they want to talk about the virtues of the socialist market economy, they can draw it out," Newkirk said at a press conference.

Tong Zhiguang, a senior Chinese trade official, countered in a statement that China had met all the conditions and "is now able to carry out all obligations as required by GATT."

Talks between China, which has sought admission for six years, and the US, whose backing is key, broke off after Beijing's 1989 crackdown.

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