A SENIOR Guangdong official yesterday warned that the province faced a challenging year in the face of growing protectionism and the possibility of China's re-admittance to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Planning Commission Director and Vice-Governor Zhang Gaoli said his report on economic and social development planning in Guangdong showed that as China opened its doors wider, Guangdong's advantages of policy, technology and products available were gradually eroding. Mr Zhang noted that global protectionism and China's eventual re-admission into GATT would influence the province's export potential. ''There will be a new pattern in which internal competition will be more intense, and external challenges will be more severe,'' he said. Mr Zhang said Guangdong should seriously study problems that would emerge once the country had rejoined GATT, and act to improve its technology and adopt international standards. ''We should actively employ new skills, new equipment, new technology to develop new products,'' he said. ''All new projects should comply with internationally accepted standards, and existing enterprises should be reformed in line with international standards in order to take part in international competition,'' he said. Mr Zhang said excessive investment last year had resulted in shortages of funds, foreign exchange and raw materials, and prices were expected to continue increasing. ''On the one hand, we want to step up the pace of economic development; on the other we have to prevent overheating. The pressure is very heavy,'' he added.