ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _President Clinton said today that a market-opening agreement with China was ``a profoundly important step'' in relations between Washington and Beijing and a boon for the global economy.

The president announced the deal, reached by negotiators in Beijing, during a morning speech to American business leaders here at the opening of a 10-day trip.

There was loud applause after Clinton opened his remarks by saying, ``I am pleased to say that the United States and the Peoples Republic of China have now successfully concluded a strong accession agreement for China to enter the World Trade Organization.''

China's admission to the WTO, the Geneva-based organization that sets the rules for global trade, has been a major foreign policy and economic goal of the Clinton administration.

``This agreement is a major step forward in bringing China into the WTO and a profoundly important step in the relationship between the United States and China,'' the president said.

His remarks were interrupted when the lights went out briefly in the hotel ballroom where he spoke. ``Somebody apparently doesn't like it very much,'' he joked. ``Have we put too much strain on the lights.'' After a minute or so, some of the lights were restored.

Clinton had hoped to achieve a market-opening deal before a WTO ministerial meeting in Seattle at the end of the month. A trade agreement with China has long been sought by U.S. manufacturers and farmers, who currently face high barriers trying to export to China.

``The China-WTO agreement is good for the United States, it's good for China, it's good for the world economy,'' the president said. ``Today, China embraces principles of economic openness, innovation and competition that will bolster China's economic reforms and advance the rule of law.''

He praised Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji for showing ``genuine leadership'' in committing China to open its markets and abide by global trade rules.