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US Presses China on Promised Market Access - 2003-02-17

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick says China has done a good job of implementing World Trade Organization agreements since becoming a member 14 months ago. But Washington's top trade official is pushing Beijing to move faster to give U.S. farmers and other exporters the market access they were promised.

The U.S. trade representative praised Chinese officials for their efforts to liberalize trade since the communist country joining the World Trade Organization a little more than a year ago.

After meetings with Vice Premier Wen Jiabao and Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng, Robert Zoellick said the government has made impressive progress in certain areas particularly introducing new corporate-friendly laws. "In the context, the scope of China, the changes, I think the performance has been pretty good," said Mr. Zoellick.

But he stressed more progress was needed in key sectors - particularly financial services and agriculture. "There are areas where we want to be sure China moves as rapidly as we believe it can," he added.

Mr. Zoellick says American farmers are not getting the access to Chinese markets anticipated under WTO guidelines. Upon joining the global trade body, Beijing pledged to establish lower tariffs on certain agricultural products, but these advantages have been off-set by additional regulations.

The U.S. trade representative also raises concerns that China was making it too hard for foreign business to get licenses by requiring excessively large capital reserves.

Speaking to reporters Monday Mr. Zoellick said the meetings were positive and he thinks some progress was made on Chinese concerns about importing genetically-modified U.S. soybeans.

The United States is China's second largest trade partner, and Mr. Zoellick says the two countries should start planning even greater long-term economic cooperation.