The mainland can play a lead broking role in helping kick-start the World Trade Organisation's stalled millennium round, Pacific Economic Co-operation Council (PECC) chairman William Fung Kwok-lun believes. Despite being a newcomer to the global free trade arena, the mainland can exercise its political and economic might to help Europe and the United States bridge their differences and champion the cause of developing nations, Mr Fung believes. 'China is just entering WTO, but it is already a major power politically. It now wants to be a major power economically. One way to exercise that is not by carrying a stick but by reconciling differences,' said Mr Fung, new head of PECC, the privately funded advisory body to the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum (Apec) and managing director of Hong Kong trading firm Li & Fung. The launch of the WTO's millennium round of global free trade negotiations collapsed in Seattle last December amid deep national divides and violent street demonstrations over the environment and human rights. The United States and Europe were unable to agree on agricultural subsidies. The US also could not resolve its anti-dumping problems with Japan. Developed countries wanted to link trade with the environment and labour rights, while developing countries complained they had not yet seen the fruits of the earlier Uruguay Round. A second attempt to launch the round may not come until next year, after this year's US presidential elections. By then the mainland could be a fully fledged WTO member, changing the dynamics of the game. Mr Fung said: 'In the old days, the US was really dominant. Then Europe became a much stronger trading power and that is when the problems started happening. 'Now you have got China coming in you've got three voices. That's better than two a lot of the time.' For instance, if the mainland said something about agricultural subsidies, Mr Fung believes it would have much influence because it was a big importer. 'China will want to play a bigger role as well,' said Mr Fung, pointing to the fact that Beijing will be chairing the influential Apec free-trade forum next year. 'When they become chair, these guys will get very enthusiastic about getting something done,' he said. 'Nobody wants to host Apec and achieve nothing.' Even though there has been little success in healing the WTO's rifts so far, Mr Fung said he was optimistic because the US and Europe realised they had to somehow bridge their differences, while developing nations would turn to the mainland for leadership. As for the mainland's WTO entry, Mr Fung admits it will be initially painful domestically, but was the correct long-term move. 'I admire China for the political courage it took. But it is going to be painful,' he said.