Openness highly crucial for Apec economies

China's Commerce Vice Minister Wang Shouwen attends an APEC Ministerial Meeting (AMM) Opening Session in San Francisco, California, U.S., November 14, 2023. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

BEIJING: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) economies should uphold the principles of open regionalism and avoid the formation of closed and exclusive “small blocs” within the region, says a senior Chinese government official.

Addressing the recent 2023 Apec Ministerial Meeting in San Francisco, Wang Shouwen, China’s international trade representative and vice-minister of commerce, said that Apec should actively promote the upcoming 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization to resume the operation of the dispute-settlement mechanism, reinforce food security, achieve temporary tariff exemptions for electronic transmissions and facilitate accession of new members.

The MC13 will take place Feb 26-29 in Abu Dhabi.

The meeting focused on topics such as supporting the multilateral trade system, regional economic integration, supply chain cooperation, digital economy and promoting inclusivity and sustainable trade and investment, the Commerce Ministry said in an online statement last Thursday.

Wang called for holding a high-level officials’ meeting again before the MC13 to build consensus. With an open attitude, Apec should push for the goals set forth in joint statements and initiatives, such as investment facilitation, and integrate them into a multilateral framework, he added.

China’s foreign trade with other Apec economies amounted to US$3.74 trillion in 2022, representing 59.7% of the country’s total import and export value. Among China’s top 10 trading partners, eight of them are Apec economies, said the Commerce Ministry.

China is the largest trading partner of 13 Apec economies. A total of 15 Apec economies have signed free trade agreements with China.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) from other Apec economies utilised by China accounted for 86.6% of the country’s total FDI in 2022, while five Apec economies were listed among the top 10 sources of foreign investment, the ministry added.

Wang said Apec should uphold the central role of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership are the two possible paths for the FTAAP that have been jointly determined by Apec leaders.

It is essential to adhere to openness, inclusiveness and continuously advance the expansion process to benefit more economies.

The vice-minister said that development should be prioritised, taking full account of the interests of developing economies. China is willing to enhance practical cooperation in the digital economy and green growth with more Apec economies.

As the International Monetary Fund has upwardly revised its growth projection for the Chinese economy in 2023, raising it from 5% to 5.4%, Wang said China will expand high-standard opening-up, share development opportunities of its vast market with other Apec economies and the world, and promote high-quality development and prosperity. — China Daily/ANN

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