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China's accession to the World Trade Organization - The services dimension, Volume 1
Author:Mattoo, AAditya; Country:China;
Date Stored:2003/01/07Document Date:2002/12/31
Document Type:Policy Research Working PaperSubTopics:Environmental Economics & Policies; Trade and Services; Payment Systems & Infrastructure; Banks & Banking Reform; Health Economics & Finance; Public Sector Economics; ICT Policy and Strategies
Language:EnglishRegion:East Asia and Pacific
Report Number:WPS2932Sub Sectors:Other domestic and international trade
Collection Title:Policy, Research working paper ; no. WPS 2932Volume No:1

Summary: China's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) commitments represent the most radical services reform program negotiated in the World Trade Organization. China has promised to eliminate over the next few years most restrictions on foreign entry and ownership, as well as most forms of discrimination against foreign firms. These changes are in themselves desirable. However, realizing the gains from, and perhaps even the sustainability of, liberalization will require the implementation of complementary regulatory reform and the appropriate sequencing of reforms. Three issues, in particular, merit attention: 1) Initial restrictions on the geographical scope of services liberalization could encourage the further agglomeration of economic activity in certain regions-to an extent that is unlikely to be reversed completely by subsequent countrywide liberalization. 2) Restrictions on foreign ownership (temporary in most sectors but more durable in telecommunications and life insurance) may dampen the incentives of foreign investors to improve firm performance. 2) Improved prudential regulation and measures to deal with the large burden of non-performing loans on state banks are necessary to deliver the benefits of liberalization in financial services. And in basic telecommunications and other network-based services, meaningful liberalization will be difficult to achieve without strengthened pro-competitive regulation.

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