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China Committed to Open Up Economy, Expand Imports, Hu Says

China will further open its economy and “actively expand imports,” President Hu Jintao said at a forum marking the country’s 10th anniversary of joining the World Trade Organization.

China will open agricultural, services and cultural industries and place more emphasis on offering equal market access to all types of businesses, Hu said today in a keynote speech in Beijing. The country has completely fulfilled its promises made to the WTO, he said.

Hu reiterated that China doesn’t “intentionally” chase a trade surplus and that it aims to strengthen cooperation with trading partners to reduce imbalances. He also repeated a call for developed nations to ease controls on high-technology exports and for “relevant countries” to recognize China’s status as a market economy as soon as possible.

China joined the WTO in December 2001 following a 15-year drive for membership in the rules-based trading system, after committing to give foreign companies more access to the world’s most-populous market. The government has pointed to lowered trade tariffs, canceled import quotas and the opening of financial and telecommunications industries to overseas competition as examples of obligations met.

China remains the world’s biggest developing nation with some “unbalanced” and “unsustainable” elements, which have to be improved, Hu said.

‘Proactive’ Role

Speaking before Hu at the same forum, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy called on China to play a more “proactive” role to help tackle a worsening global economic crisis.

China should increase domestic consumption to rebalance its development mode, Otaviano Canuto, vice president of the World Bank, said at the same forum. Naoyuki Shinohara, deputy managing director at the International Monetary Fund, said China should raise wages, reform its financial industry and continue to improve its exchange-rate mechanism.

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