China to make new bid to join global procurement pact in 2014

Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:31am EST
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By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has agreed to make a revised offer to join a global agreement aimed at creating a level playing field for foreign companies competing for government contracts, senior U.S. and Chinese officials said on Friday.

Lack of access has been a sticking point with trade partners since China joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO) 12 years ago.

If China were to join the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), it would potentially open $100 billion of government contracts to foreign competition every year, and offer opportunities ranging from building highways to running data networks.

The United States and European Union have found China's past offers of terms for access unacceptable, with Beijing disappointing existing members of the GPA over the amount of business it was ready to throw open.

Michael Froman, the U.S. trade representative, speaking after two days of talks known as the United States-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, said China has "agreed to submit a revised offer in 2014 that would be commensurate on the whole with those other GPA members".

"We are looking forward to seeing the offer and seeing whether it's a system that would consider accession to the GPA," Froman told reporters.

Chinese Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said that China's bid for the GPA "should be based on mutual respect and equality".

The discussions on Thursday and Friday were the first high-level trade talks between the United States and China since Xi Jinping became China's president in March.   Continued...

An usher and a hostess prepare a table for a signing ceremony after a meeting of the 24th China-U.S. Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, December 20, 2013. REUTERS/Alexander F. Yuan/Pool