Jiang Zemin

WTO agreement 'good for HK'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 November, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 November, 1999, 12:00am


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The US' long-awaited trade agreement with China will be 'necessarily good' for Hong Kong, according to United States Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky.

Ms Barshefsky, who arrived in the SAR on Monday night, said she had spoken to Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa about the implications of the agreement.

'I think any step that regularises economic relations between the US and China is good for Hong Kong,' Ms Barshefsky said.

The best example of this was the annual debate in the US over whether to extend Normal Trade Relations status for the mainland, she said.

Hong Kong had always expressed concern about damage to the SAR if the status was refused.

On Monday, after six days of negotiations, the US and China signed a deal paving the way for the mainland's entry to the World Trade Organisation.

The deal will accelerate the opening of the mainland market in a range of sectors.

White House National Economic Adviser Gene Sperling, who was part of the negotiating team, said the experience showed any development resulting in increased trade to and from the mainland would significantly benefit Hong Kong.

He also stressed the importance of the relationship between presidents Jiang Zemin and Bill Clinton in finalising the accord and paid tribute to the involvement of Premier Zhu Rongji.

'If you look at the flow you have to see . . . how important the personal relationship between the two presidents was,' Mr Sperling said.

With the agreement between Washington and Beijing now delivered, Mr Jiang must turn his attention to securing a similar outcome with the European Union.

The Clinton administration will focus on persuading an until-now hostile Congress to continue to offer China Normal Trade Relations status.

In two weeks, Seattle will host a new round of global trade talks, amid scepticism about how much can be achieved in four days, as well as mounting sentiment against the speed with which the process of globalisation is being imposed.