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China to take a lead role in Asia-Pacific trade liberalization

Background
The 23rd Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum was held in Lima, Peru, on 19-20 November, 2016. Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech entitled Deepening Partnership and Promoting Common Prosperity of the Asia-Pacific Region at the APEC CEO Summit on 19 November.

The APEC is a regional economic forum aiming to create greater prosperity for the region by promoting its growth and economic integration. APEC’s 21 members account for around 39% of the world’s population, 57% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), and 49% of world trade.

Highlights of Xi’s speech

  • The APEC should steadfastly promote the construction of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).
  • China will work for the early conclusion of the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
  • The Asia-Pacific region should boost economic integration and build open economy. The region also needs to promote inter-connectivity and realize collaborative development.
  • Any regional trade arrangement, in order to earn broad support, must be open, inclusive and all-win; closed or exclusive pacts are not the right choice.
  • China will implement its opening-up strategy more actively, so as to create a deeper, more comprehensive and diversified pattern of opening-up.

 

Our analysis
All eyes were on China at the APEC summit in Peru just over a week after Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election. As Trump strongly criticizes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other free trade deals, it is widely expected that a Trump administration will tear up the TPP, and renegotiate or even withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). However, in contrast to Trump’s protectionist stance, Xi calls for further trade and economic cooperation and urges regional leaders to advance trade deals including the FTAAP and the RCEP. (The FTAAP, as a major instrument to further APEC’s regional economic integration agenda, will be pursued as a comprehensive free trade agreement including all 21 APEC members. The RCEP, backed by China, is a free trade agreement involving China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India, and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).)

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Content provided by Fung Business Intelligence
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