WASHINGTON — In negotiations to join the World Trade Organization, the Chinese government may have backed away from its demands to maintain high tariffs on plastics, industry officials said.
China and the United States are far from reaching agreement on U.S. approval of China's entry into WTO, but China has given a qualified agreement to lower tariffs to worldwide norms for most plastics, said Lori Anderson, director of economic and international trade issues for the Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.
China apparently gave itself an out by saying that if India does not agree to some tariff reductions, China may reconsider, she said. India is not likely to agree to the changes.
The proposal calls for most plastics tariffs to drop to about 6.5 percent. Styrene acrylonitrile and vinyl chloride copolymers would be 12 percent and monofilaments and vinyl siding would be 10 percent, Anderson said. In many cases, those tariffs now are 30 percent or higher.
China also appears to have agreed to let foreign companies have their own distribution systems in China without local affiliation — a very important step, she said.
``Obviously, we would have liked to see all of the plastics go down to the harmonized tariff levels, but this is a negotiation that has been going on for 13 years,'' Anderson said. ``The industry needs China in WTO.''
The United States and China hope to complete WTO talks by November, but some observers say U.S. political conditions could make agreement difficult.