Environmental protection and foreign trade should be more closely tied to help China overcome 'green barriers' overseas, officials and researchers say. The deputy chief of China's Environmental Protection Administration, Wang Yuqing, told Science and Technology Daily that with World Trade Organisation entry, foreign trade departments needed to improve environmental protection requirements. Mr Wang said some developed countries used higher environmental standards as a way to protect local industries from competition by erecting a kind of barrier against cheap products from developing countries. In handling trade disputes arising from these barriers, he said, the WTO tended to favour the side with ecological superiority. Mr Wang admitted Chinese standards for most products were lower than those of developed countries and he warned: 'We could suffer foreign trade losses or even lose foreign markets if we do not raise environmental standards for our export goods.' He provided a list of some of the agricultural and industrial products the administration believed were most vulnerable to tougher environmental standards. They included foodstuffs, textiles, dyed and tanned goods, electric appliances, toys, shoes and detergents. Mr Wang said in the area of foodstuffs, Chinese standards covered only 62 types of pesticides. This was in contrast to Japan, which monitored 96 types; Canada, 87 types; and the United States, 115. He said other countries rejected some types of tea, fruits, vegetables and meat produced in China because they contained more than the acceptable amount of certain substances. Researchers at the administration's think tank said the proper response was for China to comply fully with the tougher Western standards after it joined the WTO. 'We should go ahead and register pro forma complaints just like other developing countries about the so-called discrimination, but we must do everything we can to meet those standards if we want to enter the markets of Western countries,' said Cao Fengzhong, a former director of the administration's environmental and economic policy research centre. As someone who has been following the impact of the WTO on China's environment since 1995, Mr Cao believes the higher standards should be seen not as a threat, but as an opportunity to restructure Chinese agriculture and industry and make them more environmentally friendly. He admitted there would be some teething pains, but said he had confidence in Chinese enterprises. 'I found from several case studies that our enterprises come back quickly to meet higher environmental standards after some initial setbacks,' he said. Meanwhile, Mr Wang urged the people running China's trade to make some changes in policies relating to exports and imports that cause environmental problems. He said mineral, agricultural and animal products caused a drain on resources and damaged the ecosystem in some parts of China, while the large amounts of imported scrap metal and other forms of waste were a blight on the landscape and a problem for the environment. He said China would begin restricting exports of disposable chopsticks and similar products that result in damage to forests and the environment in general. He also said environmental protection departments would work harder to prevent foreign-backed enterprises from polluting the environment.