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China’s, Mexico’s Bids For Membership at GATT Council

July 15, 1986

GENEVA (AP) _ China and Mexico on Tuesday formally began the process of joining the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, GATT, the world’s principal multilateral trading system, and drew warm welcomes from GATT members.

China, with a foreign trade turnover of almost $70 billion, presented the GATT Council with a formal request to resume its status as a member of the agreement from which it withdrew more than 30 years ago.

The Council also received a plan for the accession of Mexico, whose trade volume in 1984 totaled almost $36 billion. The plan has already been approved by the government of President Miguel de la Madrid. It will now be circulated among the 91 GATT member countries for a vote considered certain to support Mexico’s entry.

Chinese Ambassador Quian Jiadong told the session that China was currently making great efforts to reform its economic structure and that resumption of membership would help promote the open trade objectives of GATT.

China stressed in its communication that it expects to receive treatment ″equivalent to that accorded to other developing nations.″ Some GATT members reportedly want to accept China as a centrally planned socialist economy rather than as a developing country.

The Council was told that China would follow up its request with a memorandum on China’s economic system and its foreign trade programs by early next year. GATT spokesman David Woods said it was assumed that a working party then would prepare negotiations on China’s accession.

Ambassador Tran Van Thinh, the representative of the European Community, hailed the Chinese move as a ″happy and major political event.″ Welcoming comments also came from the United States, Japan and about 20 other Council members.

The GATT spokesman, briefing the press on the closed Council session, said that more than 30 speakers expressed ″great satisfaction″ at the plan negotiated between Mexico and a GATT working party.

The United States’ Michael Samuels immediately announced that Washington planned to cast a favorable ballot as soon as possible.

″Mexico’s accession to the GATT begins a new page in our trade relations,″ Samuels said. ″We believe it forms solid basis upon which we will begin to continue to develop mutual, beneficial economic and trade relations.″

Japan’s Kazuo Chiba said Mexico’s accession would ″breathe new life into GATT.″

The Mexican representative, Luis Brabo, an undersecretary in the trade ministry, said Mexico would be treated as developing country and therefore would benefit from special preferential tratement in the GATT. He said negotiations with GATT had been ″well balanced and just.″

He also said Mexico wished to contribute to the new round on trade liberalization talks whose launching will be discussed at a ministerial meeting in Punta del Este, Uruguagy, starting Sept. 15.

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