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Response of Chinese International Trade Representative, Vice Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan to Question on the 9th Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Bali

Q: How will China and the EU work more closely in the multilateral trading system to ensure an early harvest agreement will be reached during the 9th Ministerial Conference (MC9) of the WTO in Bali at the end of this year?

A: In general, China is positive and open towards the three topics in the early harvest agreement. It is working vigorously to push the negotiations forward. As the MC9 is just around the corner, we are in the final stage of the negotiations on the early harvest agreement. In the recent G20 Summit and APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, participants pledged to work vigorously for the conclusion of the early harvest agreement in the MC9 and inject strong political impetus into the negotiations. Therefore, we need to take concrete actions to implement the commitments of leaders. We need to enhance our sense of urgency and demonstrate more flexibility in order to complete the substantive negotiations on the early harvest agreement before the MC9.

China believes that to conclude the negotiations, negotiators now should stick to the following principles. First, they should not challenge the bottom lines of participating countries in order to seize this good opportunity. Second, they should not add new difficult issues to delay negotiations. Third, they should fully demonstrate flexibility and seek compromise and reasonable landing zone. So long as these principles are followed, it is not difficult to conclude the negotiations. Meanwhile, the early harvest agreement is not the end of the Doha Round negotiations. Therefore, the MC9 should not only conclude the early harvest negotiations, but also reiterate our resolve and work out a plan to conclude the Doha Round negotiations.

China is always a strong supporter of the multilateral trading system and the Doha Round negotiations. We believe that the evolving regional and bilateral trade arrangements are a good supplement to the multilateral trading system. China welcomes these arrangements, and, at the same time, believes these arrangements should not replace the multilateral trading system with the WTO at the center.

As important WTO members, China and the EU should inject political impetus into the negotiations on the early harvest agreement and work together with other members to ensure its conclusion in the MC9. On this basis, we should contribute our share to the early and complete conclusion of the Doha Round negotiations, help make the multilateral trading system more open, fair and balanced, and uphold its role in the global economic governance.

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