Mainland officials are looking at non-tariff barriers to limit access of United States products and services to its domestic market if it is granted normal trade relations (NTR) status with the world's biggest economy. The rules now under consideration cover areas from the import of poultry, meat and wheat, to restrictions on banking services. President Bill Clinton has supported the mainland's WTO accession, arguing the agreement reached between Beijing and Washington last November would open mainland markets to American products and investment and help shrink a US$68.67 billion trade deficit. Speaking last week at Johns Hopkins University, Mr Clinton characterised the deal as a 'one-way street', requiring the mainland 'to open its markets . . . to both our products and services in unprecedented ways. All we do is maintain the present access which China enjoys.' The text of the WTO pact made public yesterday by the White House made no startling revelations, but the move was seen as critical for gaining legislative support. However, Credit Suisse First Boston economist Dong Tao urged caution. 'It would be foolish to believe once WTO is signed all the barriers will be gone. It is going to take decades to sort these things out.' Overseas trade representatives and mainland entrepreneurs agreed. In April, the mainland and the US signed a separate co-operation agreement establishing more flexible standards for the import of poultry, beef and wheat. Beijing agreed to accept meat from all US Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service approved plants. The agreement established tolerance standards for the import of wheat tainted by a fungus common in the US Pacific Northwest, TCK smut. However, Beijing now appears to be dragging its feet on the accord, as it formulates new implementation procedures to cover inspection and quarantine of agricultural imports. Industry sources say the regulations, expected to be published soon, will offer little joy for US poultry and beef producers, who sold meat worth US$366 million to mainland markets last year. An official with Shanghai Dajiang Shareholding, one of the mainland's largest poultry and feed producers, expected the implementation rules to bolster non-tariff barriers. They would detail requirements for US factory registration and packaging standards to ship into the mainland - measures all likely to increase prices for US exporters. For the mainland, which exports only about one-fifth of the more than one million tonnes of poultry it imports each year, it is an issue of fairness, the official said. 'Chinese exporters face stringent barriers to exporting into the United States and other parts of the world,' he said. Banking services, too, are another area where Beijing is considering imposing new barriers to limit overseas access to its markets. Under the terms of the WTO accord, Beijing has agreed to expand the scope and geographic opportunities for foreign banks to conduct yuan currency business. However, the central bank now appears to be considering new rules that would hamper the ability of foreign banks to access yuan, by setting a ratio between their operating capital and the volume of loans they issue. Even without the capitalisation requirement, foreign bankers say, restrictions on the number of branches that will be licensed to operate will continue to limit market opportunities following the mainland's WTO accession.