Re­gional pact on com­merce makes head­way

China, 15 part­ner na­tions say it is im­por­tant to speed up the ne­go­ti­a­tions

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHONG­NAN zhong­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China and 15 part­ner coun­tries made head­way on Thurs­day on ac­cel­er­at­ing the pace of ne­go­ti­a­tions for the Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship.

The aim is to reach a “bal­anced, high qual­ity and mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial” re­sult.

Lead­ers from China, South Korea, Ja­pan, In­dia, Aus­tralia, New Zealand and the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions adopted a joint state­ment, stress­ing the im­por­tance of ad­vanc­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions over the re­gional part­ner­ship.

The state­ment was adopted on the side­lines of a se­ries of sum­mits in­volv­ing ASEAN in Vi­en­tiane, the Lao­tian cap­i­tal.

“Be­cause China, South Korea and Ja­pan are all man­u­fac­tur­ing pow­er­houses and the main ex­port prod­ucts for the other coun­tries are mainly agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, nat­u­ral re­sources and ser­vices, it is ra­tio­nal for cer­tain coun­tries to stress the mag­ni­tude of a bal­anced trade agree­ment ,” HeJing­tong, a pro­fes­sor of trade pol­icy at Nan kai Uni­ver­sity in Tian­jin, com­mented.

The pro­fes­sor said talks on the planned part­ner­ship have made strong progress. Break­throughs have been made in seven ar­eas in the past 18 months, in­clud­ing in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights pro­tec­tion, a le­gal mech­a­nism and com­pe­ti­tion poli­cies.

The Chi­nese govern­ment has said many times that it sup­ports ASEAN’s lead­ing role in ne­go­ti­a­tions on the part­ner­ship and hopes the ne­go­ti­a­tions can be speeded up to pro­mote free trade and con­ve­nience.

In 2015, lead­ers of the 16 coun­tries set a goal to end ne­go­ti­a­tions on the part­ner­ship by the end of this year. But they now be­lieve that more time will be needed to nar­row their dif­fer­ences to strike a “bal­anced” trade deal.

Ne­go­ti­a­tions on the part­ner­ship started in May 2013. Since then, 14 rounds of the talks have been held.

Trade among the 16 coun­tries amounted to $11.9 tril­lion last year, while their com­bined out­put reached $22.4 tril­lion, 30.6 per­cent of to­tal global out­put in 2015.

Zhang Ying, a re­searcher at the Chi­nese Academy of In­ter­na­tional Trade and Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion in Bei­jing, said, “Cer­tain ASEAN coun­tries are still ex­pect­ing to gain some pol­icy guar­an­tees such as get­ting more fa­vor­able tar­iff poli­cies for their prod­ucts from big­ger economies in­clud­ing Aus­tralia, China and South Korea be­fore the deal is sealed.

“As many ASEAN mem­bers’ economies de­pend heav­ily on com­mod­ity and nat­u­ral re­sources trade, the lower prices of these min­ing and agri­cul­tural prod­ucts push them to try more pol­icy meth­ods to sup­port their economies,” Zhang said.

Coun­tries such as Viet­nam and In­done­sia are also speed­ing up the pace of build­ing a rel­a­tively mod­ern man­u­fac­tur­ing foun­da­tion to im­prove their earn­ing abil­ity, Zhang added.

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