China and the Long March to Global Trade: The Accession of China to the World Trade Organization

By Sylvia Ostry; Alan S. Alexandroff et al. | Go to book overview

3

Negotiating China's Protocol of Accession

Jeffrey L. Gertler
Editors' note: This chapter was commissioned before China successfully acceded to the WTO. We have not altered the original text. We feel that it stands on its own as a piece which encapsulates the thoughts of a key WTO negotiator at the time of the negotiations. What we have done instead is include an addendum which encapsulates the final round of negotiations that culminated in the November 2001 Dubai agreement. 1
Introduction
Each accession to the WTO is a unique event, 2 but few would argue with the proposition that China's accession has been more unique than others. After all, China was one of the 23 original contracting parties to the GATT in 1948, and its application for readmission to the multilateral trading system dates back 14 years to July 1986, easily making it the longest and most arduous accession negotiation in the history of the GATT/WTO. 3The purpose of this chapter is to lay out - in descriptive fashion - the steps remaining in China's accession negotiations. Inevitably, such a description involves some degree of speculation; but given that those of us involved in this process over the years have repeatedly had occasion to speculate as to when China will get in, we must accept a degree of speculation as a necessary part of the process, while trying to keep it within reasonable bounds. The remaining steps can rather naturally be classified under three headings:
• conclusion of bilateral market-access negotiations
• conclusion of multilateral negotiations in the Working Party - including the draft Protocol and its Annexes - setting out the terms of China's accession to the WTO, and preparation of and agreement on the Working Party Report
• approval of these terms of accession by WTO Members and acceptance of them by China.

Before delving into a description of these three steps, it may be worth briefly reviewing the many ups and downs China has experienced along its accession trail. In particular I am referring here to: the significant progress that was being made just

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