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China, EU Discuss World Trade Entry

April 26, 1999

BEIJING (AP) _ Senior U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators discussed differences over China’s bid to enter the World Trade Organization in an unexpected meeting Monday, state media reported.

The deputy U.S. trade representative, Robert Cassidy, had been scheduled to return to Washington on Sunday. The delay of his departure underscored the importance that both sides have placed on reaching a market-opening agreement.

Cassidy and three other U.S. negotiators met Monday afternoon with China’s top WTO negotiator, Long Yongtu, at the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, Xinhua News Agency said.

After the meeting, Long described the talks as ``constructive″ and ``beneficial to both sides,″ the agency said. He did not elaborate.

The two sides have held talks in Beijing since Thursday to wrap up an agreement based on the market-opening offer made by Premier Zhu Rongji during his visit to Washington two weeks ago.

President Bill Clinton rejected it as insufficient but agreed with Zhu to try to conclude negotiations by June.

U.S. and Chinese negotiators have discussed opening China’s financial, insurance and service industries to foreign companies.

Experts say the sweeping concessions made by Zhu reflect China’s eagerness to use membership to the WTO to secure access to key export markets like the United States and to regain the confidence of foreign banks and investors.

Long also opened talks Monday morning with a team of negotiators from the European Union to try to secure European backing for China’s entry into the world trade body, Xinhua said.

Beijing and Washington have been engaged in on-again, off-again talks over China’s entry into WTO and its predecessor since 1986.

Update hourly