- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 15, 2003

The Bush administration's top trade negotiator will prod China about opening its market to U.S. agricultural products during a visit next week.
China joined the World Trade Organization in December 2001 after 15 years of intense talks with the United States and WTO members. The agreement was heralded as a way to open the world's most populous nation to U.S. goods.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick said China has made important progress in reforming its economy.
"However, we do have concerns that in some areas, particularly agriculture, Americans are not getting the access the Chinese promised and which the WTO mandates," Mr. Zoellick said in a statement.
During the four-day visit, Mr. Zoellick will meet with Chinese Vice Premier Wen Jiabao and Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Shi Guangsheng to discuss the WTO's effect on China, ongoing economic reforms, bilateral trade issues and global trade negotiations, the U.S. trade representative's office said.
Agriculture has been an especially contentious area for the two countries. In a December report, the trade office said that "particularly serious problems were encountered on many fronts."
China's biotechnology regulations on agricultural goods, quota-system administration for agricultural commodities and inspection requirements are areas in which U.S. producers have encountered trouble, the report said.
"At the end of [WTO] negotiations, China was a $2 billion market. We expected substantial growth, but we haven't seen that growth because China hasn't done what it's supposed to," said Teresa Howes, senior director for trade at the American Farm Bureau, a group that represents U.S. agricultural producers.
Products such as cotton, grains and vegetable oils have had particular trouble getting through China's opaque quota system, she said.
"What is pretty clear is the products are not getting in," Mrs. Howes said.
Another tough issue is export subsidies. Mrs. Howes said China is ignoring a commitment to eliminate the subsidies.
China has also had problems with food inspections, especially technical standards, quarantine issues and labeling requirements that keep U.S. products out. China used to be the biggest market for U.S. poultry, for example, but labeling requirements have limited those sales, she said.
And last year China was supposed to start on biotechnology approvals that would let genetically modified products enter the country, but officials there missed a December deadline.
"It's really been a problem, the uncertainty," Mrs. Howes said.
Mr. Zoellick will be in Beijing Monday for government meetings and to open the U.S.-China Trade Dialogue, a new bilateral forum for U.S. and Chinese government officials to discuss disputes and foster cooperation.

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