More FTA deals in 2017

Trade with Belt and Road na­tions grows at a very fast pace

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By ZHONG NAN zhong­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn - MIN­ISTRY OF COM­MERCE

China plans to seal free trade agree­ments with 40 per­cent of the coun­tries and re­gions along the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive in 2017, of­fi­cials said on Tues­day.

The na­tion had al­ready es­tab­lished FTAs or is in talks with 25 coun­tries and re­gions along the route of the ini­tia­tive by the end of this year, and it will ac­cel­er­ate the pace of FTA ne­go­ti­a­tions with Sri Lanka, Mal­dives and Pak­istan next year.

“We have also started FTA fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies with coun­tries in­clud­ing Nepal, Bangladesh and Mau­ri­tius this year,” said Zhang Shao­gang, di­rect- or-gen­eral of the depart­ment of in­ter­na­tional trade and eco­nomic af­fairs at the Min­istry of Com­merce.

The in­fra­struc­ture, ser­vice and trade net­work pro­posed in 2013 en­vi­sions a Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt and a 21st Cen­tury Mar­itime Silk Road, cov­er­ing about 4.4 bil­lion peo­ple in more than 60 coun­tries and re­gions in Asia, Europe and Africa.

Zhang said the min­istry has made progress in eight FTA talks, as well as launch­ing fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies and ne­go­ti­a­tions with another eight coun­tries and re­gions in 2016.

In the mean­time, China also launched fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies on FTAs with Canada, Pa­pua New Guinea and Fiji, as well as start­ing re­search on up­grad­ing ex­ist­ing free trade deals with New Zealand, Chile and Peru.

Zhang said the talks of the Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco- Agree­ments un­der ne­go­ti­a­tions nomic Part­ner­ship, a re­gional free trade pact be­tween 16 economies in­clud­ing Aus­tralia, In­dia and the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions, will also speed up.

Due to the rise of trade pro­tec­tion­ism, China suf­fered 117 trade rem­edy in­ves­ti­ga­tions with a to­tal of $13.98 bil­lion in­volved be­tween Jan­uary and Dec 21, in­creases of 34.5 per­cent and 71.5 per­cent, re­spec­tively, on a year-on-year ba­sis, said Wang He­jun, head of the trade rem­edy and in­ves­ti­ga­tion bureau of the Min­istry of Com­merce.

“China there­fore can raise its in­vest­ment and trade ac­tiv­i­ties with emerg­ing economies, in par­tic­u­lar those from the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, to di­ver­sify its ex­port chan­nels and avoid po­ten­tial risks,” said Zhou Li­u­jun, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the min­istry’s depart­ment of out­ward in­vest­ment and eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion.

Chi­nese com­pa­nies signed a to­tal of $84.39 bil­lion of new con­tracts in sec­tors such as power, trans­porta­tion, hous­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion in­dus­tries in 61 coun­tries and re­gions along these two trad­ing routes be­tween Jan­uary and Novem­ber this year, up 30.7 per­cent from the same pe­riod a year ear­lier.

Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship

AFP

An em­ployee of US Phar­ma­copeial Con­ven­tion, a sci­en­tific nonprofit or­ga­ni­za­tion, works in the com­pany’s lab­o­ra­tory in the China (Shang­hai) Pi­lot Free Trade Zone. China is speed­ing up free trade talks with coun­tries along the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

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