Xi: Protectionism leads to ‘nowhere’
Chinese president calls on world leaders to avoid closed doors, embrace openness
President Xi Jinping on Sunday called for firm steps to push economic globalization and boost free trade.
“History has proven that protectionism will get nowhere,” Xi said in a speech at the informal meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders, which was held in Lima, capital of Peru.
The 21 APEC member economies should promote an open and integrated economy, enhance connectivity and boost reform and innovation, Xi said.
“We need to make it clear to the world with action that the commitment of the Asia-Pacific to economic globalization is unchanged and its confidence undiminished,” he added.
Xi called on the early establishment of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), saying that the FTAAP will promote the economy of the Asia—Pacific region to a new level.
“To build the FTAAP will never be an easy task,” Xi said, adding that the FTAAP’s collective strategic study was smoothly completed this year, marking a new phase in its development.
The idea of creating the FTAAP was proposed eight years ago and was officially launched at the Beijing APEC summit in 2014.
“We need to effectively address the fragmentation of regional trade agreements, advocate openness and inclusiveness, and avoid a closeddoor policy and exclusiveness,” Xi told the APEC leaders.
This year’s APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting comes against a backdrop of a
President Xi Jinping
sluggish global recovery, a lack of growth momentum, a backlash against globalization, weak trade and investment, and growing global challenges that cloud the economic outlook.
According to an estimate by the International Monetary Fund, China’s contribution to the Asian economy has already exceeded 50 percent. With every percentage point of growth in the Chinese economy, Asia’s overall economy rises 0.3 percent.
“Now that the US is apparently turning inward (with Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election), it is especially important for China to take the driver’s seat in terms of pushing for greater free trade in the region, which benefits everybody,” Oh Ei Sun, an analyst at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying.
Liu Chenyang, director of the APEC Study Center at Nankai University in North China’s Tianjin municipality, said that the FTAAP will hopefully solve problems such as the inconsistency in rules of origin and different FTAs dedicated to different areas, thus reducing the costs of implementing FTAs.
“The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), for example, leads to vicious competition. Once the FTAAP becomes reality, it will help address problems arising from a mass of intertwined FTAs and push forward the integration of a regional economy,” he said.
“With economic restructuring, the initiative of innovation-driven growth and development of free trade zones, China boasts an increasingly opened-up and transparent market with greater market potential and improved market environment,” he added.
We need to effectively address the fragmentation of regional trade agreements.”
It is “not the right choice” to make exclusive regional trade arrangements as the Asia-Pacific region is facing the common challenge of protectionism amid slowing trade growth, President Xi Jinping said over the weekend in Lima, Peru.
Xi spoke in a keynote address at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit on Saturday.
Xi told the gathering that boosting interconnectivity was important to releasing development potential, which is also the goal of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives, put forward by Xi in 2013, aim to revive ancient trade routes, with an emphasis on infrastructure.
More than 100 countries and global organizations are participating in and supporting the initiative, with a number of major infrastructure projects already underway, Xi added.
China’s import volume will reach $8 trillion in the next five years and its number of outbound tourists will reach 700 million in the same period, Xi forecast, adding that China’s development was an opportunity for the world.
Establishing the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific is a strategic measure that will bolster the long-term prosperity of the region and should be pushed forward with firm determination, Xi said.
The FTAAP process was initially launched at the 2014 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Beijing and its roadmap was endorsed.
The Chinese economy has met with some challenges in light of global sluggishness, Xi said, adding that Beijing has taken a positive role in economic adjustments. These have helped keep China’s economic growth in the top tier of the world’s primary economies.
China, as the world’s secondlargest economy, has called for safeguarding the global free trade system and opposing protectionism.
Raul Salazar, APEC affairs director at the Peruvian Foreign Ministry, called FTAAP necessary for the global economy.
“This step taken in Beijing ... has forced all members to face the reality that this is necessary for a number of reasons,” he said. “Peru holds the position that we need an Asia-Pacific free trade area. It would allow for APEC’s work to be deepened and would see free trade agreements proliferate.”
Liu Chenyang, director of the APEC Study Center at Tianjin-based Nankai University, said, “Promoting regional economic integration requires balancing the interests of all parties, meeting the demands of the developed and developing economies, and formulating the framework and mechanism of inclusive cooperation.”
After attending APEC meetings, Xi will pay his first state visit to Peru, only about two months after his Peruvian counterpart Pedro Pablo Kuczynski made China his first official destination abroad.
Xi will hold talks with Kuczynski, meet the president of the Peruvian Congress, Luz Salgado, and give a speech before Congress.
The two heads of state are also scheduled to attend the closing ceremonies of the China-Latin America and Caribbean 2016 Year of Culture Exchange.
From left, front row: Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet, China’s President Xi Jinping, Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, Indonesia’s Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Back row: Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Chinese Taipei’s special envoy James Soong, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Juntong, US President Barack Obama and Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang, pose for a family photo during the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit in Lima, Peru, on Sunday.
President Xi Jinping delivers a keynote address at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit in Lima, Peru on Saturday.