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MOFCOM Held a Press Conference on FTA
  

The Information Office of MOFCOM held a press conference on Free Trade Area (FTA) on December 4. Mr. Yao Jian, Spokesman of MOFCOM, Mr. Sun Yuanjiang, Deputy Director of Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs of MOFCOM, Ms. Wei Chaohui, Deputy Director of Guangxi Provincial Commerce Department, were present at the press conference and answered questions from media. A transcript of the press conference is as follows:

Yao Jian: Good Morning everyone, thank you all for coming to today鈥檚 press conference. Our topic this morning is to brief on the development of FTA. As we know, China joined the WTO in 2001, which marks a milestone in China's opening up process, and we have entered into a new historical period of developing regional FTA, which has accelerated trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.

And Mr. Sun Yuanjiang, Deputy Director of Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs of MOFCOM and Ms. Wei Chaohui, Deputy Director of Guangxi Provincial Commerce Department join us today.

First of all, I would like to brief you the overall situation and the achievements of China鈥檚 FTA strategy. And Mr. Sun Yuanjiang will brief on MOFCOM鈥檚 efforts in pushing forward FTA development and the priority work for the next stage. Then Ms. Wei Chaohui will brief on the functions of FTA on promoting China鈥檚 local economic development combing with the development of China鈥揂SEAN FTA. After that we will take your questions.

I. The overall situation of China鈥檚 Free Trade Area Development

The CPC Central Committee and the State Council have attached great importance to China鈥檚 Free Trade Area Development, proposing to implement the Free Trade Area strategy in the 17th CPC National Congress and to accelerate the Free Trade Area strategy in the 18th CPC National Congress, and putting forward the proposal to speed up the development of the FTA and to form a high-standard global network of free trade areas in the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, showing the determination of the central authority on pushing forward FTA development.

China has speeded up FTA development following the new situation of the rapid development of regional economic integration, and made great progressunder the leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. In 2002, China and the ten ASEAN countries signed the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation in 2002, and announced to establish China-ASEAN FTA. And after ten years鈥development, FTA has become a new platform for China鈥檚 strategy of promoting reform and development through opening up after its accession to the WTO.

At present, China has established 18 Free Trade Areas with 31 countries and regions, for which 12 free trade agreements were signed, including China-ASEAN FTA, China-Singapore FTA, China-Pakistan FTA, China-New Zealand, China-Chile FTA, China-Peru FTA, China-Costa Rica FTA, China-Iceland FTA and China-Switzerland FTA, the Mainland and Hong Kong Economic Partnership Arrangement, the Mainland and Macao Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement and the cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, all except China-Iceland FTA have come into force. Six free trade agreements (FTA) including China-ROK FTA, China-Gulf Cooperation Council FTA錛孋hina-Australia FTA錛孋hina-Norway FTA, China-Japan-ROK FTA and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement are under negotiations. In addition, China has completed a joint study with India on regional trade arrangements (RTA), and is conducting joint FTA feasibility study with Colombia and Sri Lanka. A widely distributed FTA network across the Asia-Pacific region has been initially formed.

II. Achievements Made for China's FTA Construction

To accelerate development of the Free Trade Area (FTA) has become an important means to coordinate the two markets and the two types of resources and further open up China, showcasing an open and responsible image of China. The institutional guarantee of FTA can make the policies of goods, services, investment and personal mobility more transparent and predictable, enhance mutual economic and trade relations and economic integration, and achieve mutual benefits, win-win results and common development. The China鈥檚 FTA drive has made remarkable achievements in the following aspects:

First, FTA has promoted growth of trade and investment with FTA trading partners. Tariff reduction or zero tariffs will be realized with the further implementation of FTA, and the free trade agreement has promoted growth of goods trade, service trade and investment.

Second, FTA has reduced costs and enhanced the international competitiveness of enterprises. The market access conditions between China and FTA partners will be improved after the establishment of FTA, and trade and investment environment will become more standardized and transparent. The various preferential policies of the free trade agreement will bring down costs of enterprises in imports and exports, which would benefit enterprises to participate in international economic cooperation in a larger scope and at higher level and improve their competitiveness in the global market.

Third, FTA has provided more opportunities for trade and investment and has promoted economic cooperation of border areas. Though FTA is for cooperation among countries or separate customs territories, border areas adjacent to the partners of FTA can often play their geographic advantages and enjoy the preferential policies of the FTA to develop sub-regional cooperation, attract and undertake industrial transfer of FTA partners or domestic industries. Therefore, FTA could effectively promote development of border areas adjacent to China and its FTA partners. Ms. Wei, deputy director of the Guangxi Commerce Department will give more details on it.

Fourth, FTA has increased real interests of consumers. Through free trade, customers can buy more varieties of products imported from around the world at lower prices, so that consumption and quality of life can be improved. For example, there have been more tropical fruits in Chinese market and the prices are becoming lower, which is attributed to the China鈥揂SEAN FTA, and such tropical fruits as durian, mangosteen and dragon fruits have become daily fruits of Chinese consumers.

FTA has made the "cake" of trade bigger and has promoted the mutual benefits and win-win situation of China and the FTA partners. The potentials of trade between China and relevant countries and regions are expected to be further released with full implementation of Free Trade Agreement.

That鈥檚 a briefing on the overall situation. Now let鈥檚 welcome Mr. Sun Yuanjiang, deputy director of MOFCOM, to brief on the efforts in advancing China鈥檚 FTA construction and the priority work for the next stage.

Sun Yuanjiang: Just now, the Spokesman made an introduction to the overall situation of China's development in free trade area (hereinafter referred to as "FTA") and the favorable effects brought by FTA. Next, I will focus on what China has done in 2013 for development of FTA. In 2013, there were two highlights of China's FTA development:

I. Zero breakthrough has been made in the development of FTA with European countries.

1. China-Iceland FTA negotiation was completed and agreements were signed. On April 15, 2013, witnessed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Johanna Sigurdardottir, the Prime Minister of Iceland, Mr.Gao Hucheng, Minister of Commerce of PRC, and Mr. 脰ssur Skarph茅冒insson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Iceland, signed, on behalf of their own government, the China-Iceland Free Trade Agreement, which is the first free trade agreement by and among China and European countries; such agreement covers trade in goods and services, and investment.

The China-Iceland Free Trade Agreementhas carried out high-level tariff concession. Nearly 96% products are subject to zero tariffs by tariff number or nearly 100% if by trade volume. The two countries will officially determine the effective date of China-Iceland Free Trade Agreement after the completion of their own domestic procedures.

2. Negotiations on China-Switzerland Free Trade Agreement were completed and the agreements were signed. In May 2013, during Premier Li Keqiang's visit in Switzerland, China and Switzerland announced the conclusion of FTA negotiation. On July 6, Mr. Gao Hucheng, Minister of Commerce of PRC and Johann Schneider-Ammann, member of Swiss Confederation and head of the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs officially signed China-Switzerland Free Trade Agreement in Beijing, which is the first free trade agreement that China has signed with a country in continental Europe and a major western economy. The China-Switzerland Free Trade Agreement is of wide coverage at a high opening level with more preferential policies. It's agreement of high quality, rich contents and mutual benefits.

One outstanding feature of China-Switzerland Free Trade Agreement is industry cooperation. Switzerland agreed to set up a watch-sector-cooperation working group to communicate and cooperate with China in after-sales services, development of watch test and inspection, and setup of training schools, which is conducive to enhancement of China's watch industry in terms of production capacity and international competitiveness.

II. FTA development with surrounding countries gained new progress.

In recent years, East Asia has become a new engine of global economic growth, and also the most active region of regional economic cooperation by virtue of rapid development. China vigorously promoted the China-ROK FTA, China-Japan-ROK FTA and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RECP) negotiations, positively proposed to create an upgraded China-ASEAN FTA, so as to promote the regional economic integration of East Asia.

1. Eight rounds of negotiations were held for China-ROK FTA. At present, the two parties have reached consensus on mode of tax reduction of trade in goods and negotiation scope of agreements and come smoothly to the phase of bids and offers.

2. Three rounds of negotiations were held for China-Japan-ROK FTA, mainly discussing the procedures of negotiations, tax reduction mode and scope of agreement.

3. Two rounds of negotiations were held for RECP, during which, the scope of duty of negotiations was determined and two workgroups of goods, services and investment workgroup and rules of origin, customs procedures and trade facilitation work group were established. In August 2013, countries under RECP negotiations also convened the first meeting of economic and trade ministers in Brunei to direct the work of negotiations.

China-ASEAN FTA is the first and also the biggest FTA signed between China and other countries. It is also the first FTA established by ASEAN as a whole. On October 9, 2013, when Premier Li Keqiang visited Brunei to attend China-ASEAN leaders' conference, he suggested to launch a negotiation on upgrading China-ASEAN FTA. Now, China has submitted an upgraded draft proposal to ASEAN and gained positive evaluation from ASEAN. At present, the two parties have consulted on the time of launching the upgraded negotiation and specific contents thereof.

Besides, the second session of the second stage negotiation of tax reduction of China-Pakistan FTA was held in November 2013, and joint scientific researches with Sri lanka and Columbia have launched.

Over the 30 years of reform and opening up, especially the ten years after entry into WTO, China has gained a historical and leaping development. China's comprehensive national power and international competitiveness constantly increase over time, and the capabilities of anti-risk and applying international rules are remarkably improved. At present, China has become the second largest economy and trade country in the world, laying a solid foundation for comprehensive promotion of the FTA development. However, it should be noted that, compared with that before entry into WTO, China has witnessed drastic change in the international economic and trade environment, which has also raised new requirements for China's FTA development.

Facing the new situation of booming development of free trade area all over the world, we will adhere to the rules of global trade framework, and at the same time, we will stick to bilateral, multilateral and regional or sub-regional opening and cooperation, expand common benefits with all countries and regions, and accelerate the free trade area strategy on the basis of surrounding countries. We will reform administration systems of market access, customs supervision and inspection and quarantine and speed up negotiations on new issues like environment protection, investment protection, government procurement and e-commerce to form a global-oriented high-level free trade area network.

Yao Jian: Thank you, Mr Sun. Next, Mr Wei, Director-general of Guangxi Commercial Department will give us an introduction to the effect of utilizing free trade area by Guangxi to promote economic and social development, in combination of the implementation of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.

Wei Zhaohui: Good morning! As the front and window of China-ASEAN cooperation, Guangxi is not only an active participant of China-ASEAN free trade area, but also a province that got benefits the earliest of all. The development of free trade area greatly promoted Guangxi's opening up, making Guangxi an international channel, a bridge for communication and a platform for cooperation connecting many regions. I'm very glad to attend today's Press Conference, to brief on the remarkable changes brought by free trade area to Guangxi, which could be summarized as "four promotions".

Firstly, the economic and trade relations with ASEAN continue to rise. ASEAN has for many consecutive years been Guangxi's largest trade partner, the second largest source of utilizing foreign investment and key region for enterprises' going out. 1. Import and export are expanding. From 2002 to 2012, the trade volume between Guangxi and ASEAN increased from USD 0.63billion to USD 12.05 billion, a growth of 18.2 times, or an annual growth rate of 34.4%, and its proportion in Guangxi's total trade volume was up from 25.8% to 40.9%. In 2012, trade volume of Guangxi and Vietnam (USD 9.73 billion) took up 19.3% of the total volume of China and Vietnam. 2. Mutual investment grows rapidly. From 2002 to 2012, the actual investment of ASEAN in Guangxi raised from USD 21 million to USD 0.14 billion, an increase of 5.6 times, or an annual growth rate of 20.7%, and its proportion in Guangxi's total volume of utilizing foreign investment went up from 5% to 19%; the contracted investment of Guangxi in ASEAN grew by 50 times to USD 0.23 billion from USD 4.55 million, an annual growth rate of 48%. 3. Mutual beneficial economic cooperation is deepening. The two parties is negotiating and constructing a batch of large cooperation projects in the fields of infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and processing, promoting China-ASEAN industrial connection and complementary advantages, and pulling closer and fastening the common benefits of the two parties. Driven by the ASEAN market, the growth rates of Guangxi's foreign trade and foreign investment are both higher than the average of the whole country, and the export-oriented economy begins its new chapter of rapid and sustainable development.

Second, the influence of 鈥淣anning Channel鈥is extending. More and more important platforms, mechanisms and activities regarding China-ASEAN cooperation are held in Nanning. Nanning Declaration, Nanning Consensus and Nanning Statement are consecutively signed, making Guangxi Province and Nanning important channels for China-ASEAN communication and cooperation. First, annually-held China-ASEAN Expo keeps a steady momentum. Encouraged by China-ASEAN strategic partnership, China-ASEAN Expo has been created and developed aimed at serving China-ASEAN FTA. China-ASEAN Expos in recent ten years have received 52 state leaders, 2,040 ministerial-level guests and 398,000 exhibitors and visitors, with a trade volume of more than $10 billion and an international cooperative projects signing volume of more than $60 billion. It provides an important platform for political diplomacy, economic and trade cooperation and cultural exchanges, playing an increasingly important role in China-ASEAN cooperation. Especially the 10th China-ASEAN Expo held this year fully displays the remarkable achievements of China-ASEAN FTA and draws up the blueprint for the next decade, having been well-received at home and abroad. Second, multi-regional cooperation springs up. Besides Great Mekong Sub-Regional Cooperation, China-Vietnam鈥檚 Two Corridors and One Ring and Nanning-Singapore Corridor, Guangxi Province initiated and positively pushed forward Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation in 2006 and has successfully held seven Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Forums so far. The Feasibility Study Report that was compiled by joint panels of experts was put into the 14th China-ASEAN Summit Presidential Statement. At present, The Cooperation Roadmap, largely worked out by Asian Development Bank, is soliciting opinions from relevant countries. The Maritime Cooperation mechanism is expected to be an important starting point of the strategic conception of 鈥渢he 21th Century Maritime Silk Road鈥 Third, the construction of International Cooperative Industrial Park is well underway. Guangxi Province is exploring and improving new ways to cooperate with ASEAN countries. China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park and Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park, supported and advanced by the state leaders and governments of both sides, create a new international cooperation model - 鈥淭wo Countries, Two Parks鈥characterized by co-building, sharing and mutual benefits. Meanwhile, Guangxi Province also seeks cross-border cooperation with companies in Vietnam鈥檚 border provinces, speeds up the building of China-Indonesia Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone and China-Thailand Industrial Park and accumulates pilot experience in deepening bilateral cooperation. Fourth, it makes closer and more frequent exchanges with ASEAN countries in tourism, culture and education. For example, Guangxi Province successfully held the 2nd China-Vietnam Youth Congress in late November, marking a milestone in the history of China-Vietnam exchanges.
銆BR>Third, the inner driving force of economic and social development is rising. As Guangxi province plays a more and more important role, the central government also provides more support for Guangxi鈥檚 development. Opening and exploring Guangxi Beibu Gulf Economic Zone was upgraded as a national strategy in January, 2008. In December, 2009, the State Council issued Opinions Relating to Further Promoting Economic and Social Development of Guangxi Province. Element resources such as policies, projects, capitals and talents are fast integrated, providing Guangxi a period of strategic opportunity for major opening-up and development. The data shows that Guangxi has maintained a double-digit growth for 11 years since 2002. The economic aggregate in 2012 exceeded 1.3 trillion yuan and 7 main indicators like Gross Regional Product, Gross Industrial Output Value and Total Investment in Fixed Assets hit $1 trillion, with 8 industries of 100 billion yuan value including food, automobile, metallurgy, petrochemical and machinery industries. With significant progress in comprehensive power, Guangxi has become one of the provinces that maintain the highest economic growth rate, the most vigorous and potential province, and has been on track of endogenous development. Some industries have preliminarily taken the leading edge in cooperation with ASEAN countries. Intuitively speaking, many people who have been to Nanning marvel at its great changes. I returned to work in Nanning in 2002 and have witnessed by myself the change of Nanning from a big backward county into a beautiful modern city. Guangxi has leaped to an opening frontier from a southwestern county to a bright star in South China.

Fourth, the ability to serve the national opening-up strategy is improving. A single flower does not make a spring. With rapid self-development, Guangxi also serves in the opening-up of inland provinces in Southwest China, Guangdong Province, Hong Kong and Macao with ASEAN countries and plays an important role in carrying out the diplomatic strategy with neighboring countries as well as China-ASEAN cooperation. First, provide infrastructure guarantee for international cross-border and passage channels. Beibu Gulf port has a throughput capacity of more than 200 million tons and has opened up more than 30 international container liner routes; the international passenger train Nanning to Hanoi, Vietnam was launched in January, 2009; Nanning to Hanoi Highway Guangxi section was completed and open to traffic at the end of 2005. In June, 2013, China and Vietnam realized the direct official vehicle transport, passenger and freight transport; Guangxi Province has opened the flight routes with many important cities and capital cities of ASEAN countries. Second, Beibu Gulf Economic Zone has provided new carrier for cooperation. As Beibu Gulf Economic Zone is increasingly open, many breakthroughs have been made in major projects, a number of port industries are taking shape, bonded logistics system has been built and investment and wealth lowland effects are emerging constantly, attracting numerous businessmen from Hong Kong, Taiwan and neighboring provinces and cities to come here for strategic investment. For example, Yunnan Province is building Beibu Gulf Economic Zone Linhai Industrial Park and joins efforts with Guangxi to explore business opportunities in ASEAN countries.

Dear friends, at present, China-ASEAN is making efforts to upgrade China-ASEAN FTA, pushing the cooperation in the golden decade to the diamond decade. On the basis of the indicative spirits Premier Li Keqiang made during his visit to Guangxi Province in July, Guangxi Province will further take the advantages, speed up to build a new strategic fulcrum in central south and Southwestern China, focusing on transportation, industries, finance, opening-up, city and town and ecology as well as make further contributions to deepening cooperation and sustaining development of China and ASEAN countries.

Yao Jian: Thank you, Mr. Wei. That鈥檚 all about our introduction to the FTA that China has built with relevant countries and regions as well as the promotion of its trade liberalization, integration and facilitation.

Next, we have some time for your questions; please introduce the media name you work for before your questions.

A reporter with China News Service: Mr. Sun, as you just mentioned China-ROK Free Trade Area and China-Japan-ROK Free Trade Area, could you introduce the negotiations progress for the two free trade areas in details? Did the situation in North-east Asia influence the negotiation progress?

Sun Yuanjiang: Thank you. I just mentioned the progress of the two free trade areas briefly. Concretely speaking, China-ROK Free Trade Area has carried on eight rounds of negotiations and has finished the phrase of mode negotiation, in which phrase both sides have confirmed the level of liberalization. Besides, we made preliminary confirmation on the range of areas. We can say that we have built the framework of China-ROK Free Trade Area after the phrase of mode negotiation and the left is to complement and enrich the contents. Certainly, both sides have to negotiate between offensive and defensive interests in bidding phrase with big differences; each one is working hard to step up the negotiation. It鈥檚 encouraging that either China or South Korea puts China-ROK Free Trade Area as a strategic priority. Therefore, we are full of confidence on the completion of China-ROK Free Trade Area negotiations as soon as possible.

As for China-Japan-ROK Free Trade Area, we carried on three rounds of negotiations this year, made great achievements in the phrase and mode negotiations and also reached some consensus. Since industry competitiveness of the three countries is not all the same, differences really exist, especially in how to take care of each other鈥檚 major concerns, achieve common interest and reach an even and win-win free trade area. Anyway, all the three sides are making all out efforts for a comprehensive, high-level, even and win-win free trade area.

A reporter with China National Radio: Could you brief on the latest progress in China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Area? Are there any differences or connections compared with the free trade areas we have signed with other countries?

Yao Jian: the theme of today鈥檚 conference is to introduce the free trade areas that China has developed and constructed with relevant countries and regions. We all know that we have multilateral channels, have WTO to push regional economic integration and facilitation, and also have the free trade area to promote the regional economic cooperation between China and relevant countries and regions, including the trade facilitation. You asked about the connection and distinction between China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Area (hereinafter referred to as the "Area") and other free trade areas just now, as we all know that the Area is an important part of China鈥檚 deepening reform and opening up strategy. The two concepts share both similarities and differences. The Area is a means of self-independent and opening-up in a specified region. As it鈥檚 well known that some countries and regions also have similar free trade area with different names in the world such as economy special zone, free economic zone, and special economic zone, but only one goal is to provide trade and investment facilitation for enterprises that invested within the region and attract more enterprises.

China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Area is built to promote reform via opening up, further improve our administrative management system and take further measures in line with international trade rules to benefit the enterprises. Its advantages lie that in the Area, you can do the trial, gather experience, test whether the measures in line with international trade rules are also feasible in the Area, popularized among the enterprises or recognized by international companies. This is the characteristic of the Area.

The free trade area we talked about today is an agreement among countries, or between country and region regarding economic cooperation. It鈥檚 realized through negotiations and of common interests. For countries or regions beyond, they cannot enjoy the policies. However, they also share some similarities. We have taken some trial policies in China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Area, for example, simplification of business registration procedures, further opening of service sector and investment facilitation including 鈥渘egative list鈥 All these measures are relating to the issues we met in the process of free trade area negotiations. If the measures can be carried out and recognized by the enterprises in China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Area, and if the government management ability and modern management level could fit them, then we may further repeat and promote these measures to provide basis and experience for the free trade agreements to be signed by China with foreign investors and the construction of free trade areas and further strengthen our confidence to open wider. Therefore, they share both similarities and differences.

A reporter with CCTV-NEWS: Director-general Sun, my question is how can the enterprises seek the opportunities and make full use of the conditions brought by the free trade area? Moreover, how can they fully take advantage of the preferential policies under the framework of the Area? Thank you!

Sun Yuanjiang: Thanks for your questions. The most important goal for free trade agreement negotiations is to benefit our enterprises. Free trade agreement mainly aims to open the markets, involving tariff reduction of trade in goods and cancellation of non-tariff trade barrier as well as some rules. Enterprises need to carefully study some concrete terms therein, including the tariff reduction set forth in the annex thereto so as to make good use of this preferential agreement. We will levy zero tariffs on the most of products under the agreement to the extent that some are subject to a transitional period and some partial reduction. Enterprises can refer to the agreements to arrange production or export according to specific objects and regions. Therefore, enterprises should pay more attentions to this respect.

Besides, we have also enhanced the force of propagandism or popularity of the preferential policies in free trade agreements via various channels like Internet, seminars or like today鈥檚 press conference to let more enterprises know them. Just now, Director-general Yao gave a specific explanation of the differences between China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Area and other free trade area strategies, which are easy to confuse us. Actually, it鈥檚 a beautiful misunderstanding, which attracts more people's attentions to our free trade area strategy. We wish for enterprises' concern on the progress of free trade area negotiation, including the agreement signing and the clause of 鈥渞ule of origin鈥in particular. Only when the enterprises learn and make full use of the clause, can they benefit therefrom to the greatest extent. Thank you.

A reporter with China Daily: Director-general Sun, I notice that recently, ROK has showed interest in joining TPP negotiations led by the U.S.. Will it hinder China-Japan-ROK FTA negotiations and RCEP negotiations to some extent? Besides, the UK Prime Minister Cameron recently expressed his stand to support China-EU FTA negotiations while EU side thinks that it鈥檚 not the right time yet. So what is the Ministry of Commerce's opinion? What鈥檙e the main difficulties? My last question is that since the main economies are keen on regional trade arrangements at the moment, does it show that WTO multilateral trading system is not popular at all?

Sun Yuanjiang: I also notice that ROK government has expressed its intention to join TPP recently. However, it鈥檚 only an intention and ROK government has not made the final decision on whether to join the TPP or not. There is an unwritten rule that one acquiring consents of all TPP members may join TPP negotiation. Therefore, before joining TPP, it also needs to carry on bilateral negotiations with TPP members to obtain consents from all the present TPP members and their congress, which will need time.

At this moment, we do not want to predict whether or when ROK government will join TPP. China-ROK Free Trade Area and China-Japan-ROK Free Trade Area negotiations started last year; as I just mentioned that so far, the former has finished eight rounds of negotiations and the later three rounds. Until now, I haven鈥檛 seen any influences on our negotiations. As for in the future, it depends on the progress of ROK鈥檚 TPP negotiations as well as the above two free trade area negotiations.

With respect to China-EU Free Trade Area negotiations, we hold an overall open attitude to all free trade agreement arrangements, and do not exclude any regional trade arrangement that strives for regional economic integration. We also would like to carry on free trade agreement negotiations with all economies. As it鈥檚 explicitly stated in the Third Plenary Session of 18th CPC Central Committee, we will strive to build a high-level free trade agreement network around the globe. However, free trade agreement negotiations are different from WTO ones. WTO negotiations require all its members to join the negotiations once it starts whether they like or not; but with FTA negotiations, you can choose either the region or the partner and carry on negotiations as long as both sides agree to, depending on bilateral requirements and intentions as well as the concrete conditions.


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