Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng at the opening of the APEC Ministerial Meeting held on Friday in Beijing. Gao called for the Asia-Pacific region to deepen economic integration and to push forward the process of creating the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.[Photo by Feng Yongbin/China Daily]
China supports the establishment of a worldwide multilateral trading system and is looking forward to cooperation with all Asia-Pacific economies on multilateral free trade projects, Vice-Premier Wang Yang said on Nov 7.
The country will work with the world to push the Bali Package, a World Trade Organization agreement reached late last year, Wang told visiting WTO chief Roberto Azevedo. The agreement is aimed at making it easier for developing countries to compete in global markets.
A well-functioning global value chain evaluation mechanism will create the foundation for a “high-level” economic free trade zone and benefit all economies, Chinese officials and researchers said.
Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng called for the Asia-Pacific region to deepen economic integration and to push forward the process of creating the proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific at the upcoming APEC meetings.
He made the comments at the opening of the APEC Ministerial Meeting, which will pave way for the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in coming days.
Gao said the Asia-Pacific region, as the engine of global economic growth, has achieved remarkable progress. But major challenges remain, given the unstable economic recovery and sluggish demand in international markets.
“The Doha Round has experienced twists and turns, while trade protectionism still exists,” Gao said. “Fragmentation in regional development is on the rise, and gaps between APEC members remain to be bridged.”
He added that there is still room for improvement of communication and connectivity in the areas of industry, human resources, infrastructure and information exchange among the APEC members.
Global economies started to sign regional free trade deals as the WTO’s Doah Round hit a dead end in 2008.
Shen Danyang, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said China is actively participating the establishment of new world economic order to help all APEC members boost trade.
China is considering a series of new trade policies to fit the nation’s position in the global value chain, Shen said.
China, the world’s second-largest economy and manufacturing hub, is still on the lower end of the international value chain, according to Yang Cuihong, professor of economics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
“As China climbs up the chain, its trade partners will benefit from higher added values created from bilateral trade,” Yang said.
China is actively promoting the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, which can include most economies in the global value chain, including the world’s leading powers that export products with high added value and the emerging economies that contribute raw materials and cheap labor.
“A modern multilateral free trade proposal should give every economy a fair chance to trade equally, not just be a playground for developed economies,” said Lin Guijun, an economist and vice-president of the Beijing-based University of International Business and Economics.
Researchers suggested that emerging markets and exporters of natural resources should work together to reach a free trade deal that can protect the interest of economies at the lower end of the value chain.