The man who negotiated China's entry into the World Trade Organisation says it has caused a surge in foreign investment and that farmers should blame the market, not the organisation, for their troubles. Long Yongtu, Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation, was chief negotiator during the 15-year process that led to China's entry in December last year. 'After entry and with the introduction of certain new measures, inward foreign investment rose strongly, a sign of confidence in the market,' Mr Long told Caijing magazine. 'The biggest impact of membership was to increase the confidence of the global business community in China's continued economic growth,' he said. 'This has become very clear during the last year.' Figures show that in the first 10 months of the year, China attracted US$44.72 billion (HK$348 billion) in foreign investment, an increase of 20 per cent over the same period last year. It is likely to attract more than US$50 billion for the full year. Mr Long said WTO membership had also been a factor in the good performance of the economy this year, with GDP growth of 8 per cent and foreign trade of US$600 billion. 'It will need a certain period of time to see the impact on our economy, especially on foreign trade.' Among domestic constituents, those most apprehensive about WTO membership were farmers, who feared lower tariffs would lead to a flood of imports and reduce their share of the market. Mr Long said the quota for grain imports was not a result of negotiations, but was put in place by WTO calculations which set low-tariff quotas based on the level of imports of the three previous years - in China's case, before 1998. He said because China had enormous stocks of corn, imports this year had been 7,000 tonnes, just 0.2 per cent of the quota level. 'This is a result of the market. With grain stocks at the current high levels, we cannot have a flood of imports. That is the rule of the market,' he said. But lower tariffs had contributed towards a rise in imports of fertiliser, something farmers badly need, with 78 per cent of the quota filled in the first 10 months. 'China's quota-management system has not influenced imports. Their level is decided by the market. The WTO does not present a challenge,' he said. He said people should rid themselves of the notion that exports were good and imports bad. Instead, they should consider whether they were good for the country. During the past year, the country's legislators and government departments had worked hard to revise and abolish laws and regulations to make them WTO-compatible, he said. Regarding foreign criticism of China since WTO entry, Mr Long admitted local protectionism and sectoral monopolies continued. Reforms were needed to change the thinking of local officials because such protectionism was not compatible with a unified market economy, he said.