The official approval on the WTO accession agreement comprises some 900 pages of legal text. Other than the specific commitments made, China's accession agreement contains some important general principles and a few special arrangements that warrant particular attention.
China will provide non-discriminatory treatment to all WTO members. All foreign individuals and enterprises, including those not invested or registered in China, will be accorded treatment no less favourable than that accorded to enterprises in China with respect to the right to trade.
China will implement the WTO agreement in an effective and uniform manner by revising its existing domestic laws and enacting new legislation fully in compliance with the agreement. Within three years of accession all enterprises will have the right to import and export all goods and trade them throughout the customs territory, with limited exceptions. China will not maintain or introduce any export subsidies on agricultural products.
China will reserve the right of exclusive state trading for products such as cereals, tobacco, fuels and minerals and maintain some restrictions on transportation and distribution of goods inside the country. However, many of the restrictions that foreign companies currently face in China will be eliminated or eased considerably after a three-year phase-out period.
China will eliminate dual-pricing practices as well as differences in treatment accorded to goods produced for sale in China compared with those produced for export. Price controls will not be used to afford protection to domestic industries or services providers.
In other areas, such as the protection of intellectual property rights, China will implement the TRIPS (Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement in full from the date of accession.
This overview was written by John Robinson, partner of TLS of PwC Shanghai, Allan Zhang, director of China Business Centre of PwC UK, and Elton Huang, manager of China Business Centre of PwC UK.