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TRADE WARS
China's trade policies still too opaque: WTO members
by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) July 03, 2014


GE taps China CEO to lead Alstom merger
New York (AFP) July 03, 2014 - General Electric on Thursday said the head of its China business will transfer to France to lead the US company's proposed buyout of Alstom's energy businesses.

Mark Hutchinson, president and chief executive of GE Greater China, will be based in Paris to manage the integration of the French industrial company's power and grid businesses, GE said in a statement.

The British national who previously lived in France, according to a company profile, has managed the GE Greater China unit, which employs 18,000 people, for three years.

"Mark has presided over tremendous growth in our China business and has continued to build on our status as a trusted partner, supporting the government's growth priorities,"said John Rice, vice chairman of GE, in a statement.

"His deep knowledge of GE and experience in global markets, make him the right person for this important role."

Hutchinson began his career with the Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE in 1994. He has been involved in a wide range of the company's businesses, and led GE's capital markets team for a decade.

GE named Rachel Duan, the head of GE China Healthcare since 2010, to succeed him as president and CEO of GE Greater China, while also keeping her current responsibilities.

GE won a two-month deeply political battle to buy the energy arm of Alstom in late June, in the face of French government opposition and a rival joint offer from Germany's Siemens and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan.

France agreed to the bid on the condition that, while GE could take the whole of Alstom's gas turbine business, the government would hold a stake in GE-French joint ventures for Alstom's nuclear, steam turbine, offshore wind and hydro power businesses.

World Trade Organization member states on Thursday urged China to make its trade policies more transparent amid a "striking" lack of clarity on its rules.

China, which recently become the largest trader in the 160-member group, has failed to live up to key transparency commitments it made when it joined the organisation in 2001, WTO members said during a three-day policy review.

The WTO Secretariat, which has drawn up a 200-page report on China's trade policy over the past two years, acknowledged it had not been able to obtain key documents from Beijing since they had not been centralised and many had not been translated into one of the group's official languages.

Malaysian ambassador Mariam Salleh, who chaired the mandatory biannual review, said members had stressed "the increased responsibility that comes with becoming a lead player in the multilateral trading system".

One source said a full overview of the country's complex web of national and sub-national trade laws and regulations was effectively impossible, while EU ambassador Angelos Pangratis described the lack of clarity on trade issues as "striking".

Canada's representative also criticised the "often vague and insufficent information available publicly".

China has been locked in disputes with several members of the WTO over its trade policy, which other members say is often unclear and even contradictory.

In May, the WTO rejected Chinese tariffs on US-made luxury cars, handing Washington a victory on one of the growing number of disputes between the world's two largest economies.

US representative Chris Wilson criticised China's "apparently retaliatory conduct" in its use of duties, and said the country appeared to ignore a number of WTO findings against it.

Chinese Assistant Minister of Commerce, Wang Shouwen, flatly rejected the allegations as "baseless", and insisted that China "has one of the best track records of implementing WTO rulings".

Many of the 50 WTO members who took part in the review also criticised Beijing's use of export restraints and taxes, restrictions on foreign investments and said it must improve protection for intellectual property rights (IPR).

"An enormous amount of work remains if China is to close significant loopholes in its legal framework and reduce the unacceptably high (IPR) infringement levels," said the US's Wilson.

But Shouwen stressed Thursday that his country had made great strides to address these issues and pledged to do more to improve transparency.

The country's ranking as the world's biggest trader and second-largest economy "cannot hide the fact that China is still a developing country," he added.

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