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2017 Report on China-ASEAN Economic and Trade Cooperation (XXI)

Post Time:2017-09-04 10:38:10

Author: Mr. Xu Ningning, Executive President of China-ASEAN Business Council (CABC)

III. China-ASEAN Economic and Trade Cooperation

Relevant Suggestions on Developing China-ASEAN Economic Trade Cooperation Comprehensively and in Depth

(X) Give Attention to Competition and Cooperation among China-ASEAN + Third Party 

Jointly Promoting the Establishment of RCEP

After the United States announced its withdrawal from Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the concerns on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have been rapidly heating up.

On the East Leaders’ Meetings held in November 2012, leaders of ten ASEAN countries, China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand jointly issued Joint Statement on Launching Negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), officially launching the construction process of FTA covering 16 countries, which marks the further expansion of Free Trade Area in East Asia.

RCEP negotiation is a regional FTA negotiation currently, being the most dynamic, covering the largest population and the most extensive areas, and having the most diversified members in the global economy. The population of RCEP countries accounts for 50% of the world’s population, and their GDP, trade volume and foreign investments almost accounts for one third of those of the whole world. In September 2016, during the East Leaders’ Meetings, all parties issued the Joint Leaders’ Statement on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), requiring to speed up negotiations and end negotiations as soon as possible.

The completion of RCEP needs ASEAN to complete ASEAN Economic Community and promote its economic integration, thus to gain new development in wider markets.

The completion of RCEP needs to strengthen mutual political trust among RCEP countries. The signing of Free Trade Agreement is inseparable from mutual economic cooperation and political relations. Weak political relations will inevitably restrict opening up markets to each other. At the same time, RCEP construction is conducive to increasing mutual trust among member countries.

The completion of RCEP needs to formulate proper RCEP regulations and process and conquer difficulties. In the process of integrating Free Trade Agreement based on the five “10+1” FTA, the difficulty is that there is no mutually-opened markets among countries of FTA and RCEP.

The completion of RCEP needs to further improve China-ASEAN Free Trade Area and do well in its upgrading.

The completion of RCEP needs to strive for the support from external countries to reduce resistance, and to make countries that have not participated in RCEP feel that the completion of RCEP is not only beneficial to the economic growth of RCEP countries, but also conducive to the growth of the world economy.

We should realize that to build RCEP is not an easy task. It requires the common strategic consciousness of all member countries, needs determination of cooperation and positive actions, and needs joint efforts to achieve win-win result..

Currently, in the RCEP negotiations, Japan hopes to conclude high-end regulations on trade and investment, which is similar to Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), while the Philippines and other countries wish that a basic agreement could by reached within 2017 and that discussions on regulations could be postponed to 2018. Thus, there exists contradictions between two sides.

In May 2017, the Ministerial Conference of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was held in Hanoi Vietnam. Sixteen trade ministers from the 10 ASEAN countries, China, Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand attended the conference. Chinese Minister of Commerce said in his statement that Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the silk road spirit of "peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit and win-win result" at the Belt and Road Forum from International Cooperation, emphasizing that efforts should be made to promote to build a fair, reasonable and transparent international trade and economic investment rule system, promote the construction of Free Trade Area, and join hands to construct an extensive interests community. The RCEP works on reaching a modern, comprehensive, high-quality and reciprocal free trade agreement which is highly echoes the silk and road spirit.

In order to accelerate the negotiation process of RCEP, Chinese Minister of Commerce put forward three suggestions on behalf of China:

First is to support the ASEAN to take the lead to expand the consensus. China will always firmly support the leading position of the ASEAN. As a strong supporter and pusher of the RCEP, China is willing to make the utmost efforts to jointly accelerate promoting negotiations in all fields with all parties. China has submitted its revised offer of commercial trade, service and investment.

Second is to seize the opportunity to end the negotiation as soon as possible. This year coincides with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the ASEAN. The ASEAN puts forward to practically end the negotiation within the year. All parties should seize the opportunity, strive to make breakthrough in the three fields such as goods, service and investment, and try to realize the goal instructed by all leaders to quickly end the negotiation.

Third is to give consideration to the appeals of all parties to practically promote the negotiation. The RCEP members have great differences in aspects such as political system, development stage, economic volume and opening level. All parties should show greater tolerance and dexterity, jointly overcome the core difficulties and strive to reach a free trade negotiation which reflects the characteristics of all parties and realizes mutual benefit and win-win results.

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Intersessional Ministerial Meeting held in May 2017 released Joint Media Statement, the statement reads in full as follows:

The Ministers from the 16 RCEP Participating Countries (RPCs) attended the 3rd RCEP Intersessional Ministerial Meeting held on 21-22 May 2017 in Ha Noi, Viet Nam to take stock of the status of RCEP negotiations including the challenges faced following the conclusion of the 18th round of negotiations held on 2-12 May 2017 in Pasay City, Philippines. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to meet the Leaders’ mandate for a swift conclusion of the RCEP negotiations in delivering the vision in the Guiding Principles and Objectives for the RCEP Negotiations.

The Ministers recognized that notwithstanding the continuing signs of global economic recovery, the risks of policy uncertainties and growing protectionist sentiment remain. The Ministers again emphasized the urgency for a successful and timely conclusion of the RCEP negotiations, bearing in mind the potential of the modern, comprehensive, high quality and mutually beneficial Agreement to serve as a beacon of open regionalism that will bring about inclusive and innovative growth as well as to contribute to further economic development and employment benefitting all. RCEP’s market access commitments, rules and cooperation will deepen regional economic integration and promote supply chain growth.

The Ministers noted that the substantial conclusion of the RCEP has been identified as a priority deliverable in this milestone year of ASEAN’s 50th anniversary. The Ministers noted the necessity of significant progress and committed to work together to this end. The Ministers highlighted that the negotiations have come to a critical juncture, and acknowledged that there are many challenging issues to resolve. The Ministers stressed that all RPCs must redouble efforts to translate their political commitments into actions to see through the RCEP towards a swift conclusion. The Ministers urged RPCs to continue engaging in the negotiation process in a positive and constructive manner.

The Ministers noted the progress made in all areas of negotiations and welcomed the conclusion of two chapters of the RCEP Agreement to date, namely the chapters on economic and technical cooperation, and on small and medium enterprises, while noted that other chapters are still in progress with some of them nearing conclusion. The Ministers noted the importance for RCEP having modern trade facilitative rules and the progress made in the text- based negotiations across all areas.

The Ministers welcomed a significant movement made toward the next phase of market access negotiations in goods and services, and commitments on investment and noted that more work is required to improve offers that have been tabled to date. The Ministers recognized the importance of all RPCs working together to address different levels of development among RPCs to achieve mutually beneficial and commercially meaningful outcomes. The Ministers reemphasized the need to achieve a balanced outcome in all areas of negotiations – goods, services, investment.

The Ministers called on all RPCs to redouble efforts to expedite the remaining work. The Ministers further emphasized the need to achieve good progress at each of the remaining rounds.

The Ministers noted with appreciation the intensification of efforts on stakeholder engagement which include business representatives and civil society, and underscored that the success of the RCEP Agreement will be contingent upon the concrete benefits it delivers to all.

China and ASEAN countries share a traditional friendship of a long history, share more than 20 years of successful experience in development with cooperation, put together with each other in times of trouble (such as East Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 and International Financial Crisis in 2008), and share the happiness of harvest of cooperation. The experiences which were accumulated over the past more than twenty years since the establishment of China-ASEAN dialogue partnership has laid great foundation for the cooperation between two sides, based on which the future cooperation between two sides will further embodies the features of comprehensiveness, innovation, pragmatism and mutual benefit. Comprehensive cooperation will be reflected in the good interaction and cooperation in political, economic and social fields; innovative cooperation will enable both sides to maintain the vitality of cooperation and gain development; pragmatic cooperation will enable two sides to implement the consensuses which have been reached to consolidate the foundation for cooperation, to realize innovative cooperation and reach new consensuses; mutually-beneficial cooperation is the starting point and foothold of our cooperation.

It is our common interests and our common responsibilities to strengthen China-ASEAN economic and trade cooperation. The good neighborly and friendly cooperation between China and ASEAN, which is full of vitality, has provided vast space and many business opportunities for the development of our respective countries, and also made important contributions to the economic development of Asia and the world as a whole. Nowadays, the relationship between China and ASEAN has stood at a new historical starting point, so it is a great mission for us to work together to build a good neighborly and friendly relationship full of vitality. It is believed that with the joint efforts of both sides, China and ASEAN will make great strides to the road of mutual benefits and win-win results. 

In August 2013, at the International Conference Center in Bandar Seri Begawan City, the Capital of Brunei, Xu Ningning (M) was invited to attend the 1st Joint Consultation Conference of ASEAN+1 Business Councils, and made remarks on behalf of the Chinese sides. More that 30 people attended the Conference, including Chairman (R) of America-ASEAN Business Council and Chairman (L) of India-ASEAN Business Council etc..  

The members of Joint Consultation Conference of ASEAN+1 Business Councils include: ASEAN Business Advisory Council, East Asia Business Council, China-ASEAN Business Council, US-ASEAN Business Council, EU–ASEAN Business Council, Russia–ASEAN Business Council, ASEAN-Japan Business Council, ASEAN–India Business Council, Australia-ASEAN Business Council, ASEAN-New Zealand Combined Business Council and Canada–ASEAN Business Council etc.. The Joint Consultation Conference is held twice a year.

 


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