A special working group led by State Councillors Wu Yi and Wang Zhongyu has been formed to prepare senior officials for the mainland's imminent entry to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), sources said. The group, set up by the State Council, will start giving training sessions to the heads of ministries and provincial governments from next month to prepare them for post-WTO challenges. It is understood the State Council has requested government departments to form special groups to evaluate the impact of WTO entry and put forward proposals for policy adjustments. The party's Organisation Department has been asked to provide special training for departments and provincial leaders. The leadership is aware that officials at all levels may not have a full grasp of the implications of entry. The State Economic and Trade Commission has been given the responsibility of briefing leaders of large state enterprises. The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations will provide training to professionals such as managers, engineers and trade officials. The Sino-US trade agreement struck in November has paved the way for the mainland's accession to the WTO after 13 turbulent years of negotiation. China still has to reach bilateral agreements with 22 WTO members, including the European Union, to complete the procedural aspects of joining the body, which sets the rules for world trade. Sources said state leaders had expressed hopes of joining before July. Talks with the EU in Beijing finished earlier this week without agreement. A schedule for re-opening talks has yet to be announced. Mainland sources said the EU had proposed even harsher demands than the US for China to open its telecommunications and insurance markets. To prepare for its entry, Beijing has started amending laws which are not in line with WTO rules. Academics have also urged the Government to consider trade regulations, such as anti-dumping rules, and the imposition of standards on technical requirements and environmental protection, as in the case of Western countries, to protect industries according to the WTO rules.