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Ministry of Commerce Holds Press Briefing on Trade, Economic Cooperation of 22nd APEC Economic Leader鈥檚 Meeting
  

The Information Office of China鈥檚 Ministry of Commerce held a briefing on trade and economic cooperation of the 22nd APEC Economic Leader鈥檚 Meeting for Chinese and foreign media on November 4. Assistant Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen and Director of the Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs Zhang Shaogang were present and answered the questions from the media. Deputy Director of the Information Office Hu Suojin presided over the briefing. The contents of the briefing are as follows:

Hu Suojin: Good morning, friends from the media. The 22nd APEC Economic Leaders鈥Meeting will be held on November 10-11, next Monday and Tuesday. On Friday and Saturday, that is, November 7-8, the 26th APEC Ministerial Meeting will be held including both foreign affairs and trade ministers. Today, we hold this briefing on trade and economic cooperation of the 22nd APEC Economic Leader鈥檚 Meeting for Chinese and foreign Media and have invited Assistant Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen and Director of the Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs Zhang Shaogang to introduce to you the basic situation of APEC, especially a series of proposes in trade and economic fields put forward by the members through consultations during the APEC 鈥淐hina Year鈥 as well as the considerations on trade and economic topics and expected achievements of the Economic Leader鈥檚 Meeting. Then they will answer your questions. The briefing will last about one hour. At first, let鈥檚 welcome Assistant Minister Wang Shouwen to give us an introduction to the basic information of APEC and the considerations on trade and economic topics of the Economic Leader鈥檚 Meeting.

Wang Shouwen: The 22nd APEC Economic Leader鈥檚 Meeting will be held on November 10-11 in Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping and the leaders and representatives of other APEC members will meet in Beijing to discuss the development of the Asia-Pacific region. Before the Economic Leader鈥檚 Meeting, the Ministerial Meeting will be held on November 7-8 and the final Senior Officials鈥Meeting will be held on November 5-6. With the theme of 鈥淪haping the Future through Asia-Pacific Partnership鈥 the Economic Leader鈥檚 Meeting has three topics: promoting regional economic integration; enhancing innovation-driven development, reform and growth; and strengthening comprehensive infrastructure construction and connectivity. This year, with the joint effort of all parties, and through the Ministerial Meeting held in May and three Senior Officials鈥Meetings, APEC has gained a series of important proposes on economy and trade, and laid a solid foundation for the Economic Leader鈥檚 Meeting.

APEC was found in 1989, and for the past 25 years, APEC has grown from nothing, and the number of its members has developed from less to more, becoming a regional cooperation organization with the highest level, largest scale and widest influence in the region. At the same time, the cooperative mechanism of APEC driven by liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment, as well as economic and technological cooperation has made great contributions to promoting the prosperity and development of economy in the Asia-Pacific region and the world. At present, the foreign trade volume and economic aggregate of the 21 members of APEC account for 48% and 57% of the world total respectively. The Asian-Pacific economy plays a significant role in the global economy, and is an important engine for global economic growth.

APEC is an important regional economic organization for China to participate in. During the 25 years since its foundation, the economies of China and the Asia-Pacific region have benefited and promoted each other. In 2013, the trade volume between China and other APEC members reached US$ 2.5 trillion, accounting for 60% of China鈥檚 foreign trade. Eight of the ten largest trade partners of China are APEC members. In 2013, China鈥檚 direct investment to APEC members accounted for 69% of China鈥檚 total investment abroad, and its real utilization of investment from APEC members accounted for 83% of its total real utilization of foreign investment.

At present, the global economy is still under a slow recovery with a weak foundation. The Doha Round Negotiations are facing challenges and trade protectionism often raises up. Free trade areas in the Asia-Pacific region develop vigorously but also face new tasks of deepening, adjustment and integration. The global value chain has become an import driving force of regional integration and new international trade rules sprout. As the most important economic cooperation organization in the region, APEC should continue to play the leading role, maintaining and developing an open global economy and promote the common prosperity of regional and global economy.

In terms of achievements in trade and economic fields of the meeting, China has mainly the following considering:

In terms of the construction of the Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area, China hopes that APEC would play the coordination and leading role in promoting regional integration, complete the formulation of the Roadmap for APEC鈥檚 Contribution to the Realization of an FTAAP, implement the information exchange mechanism of APEC FTAs, promote the interaction of FTAs including the TPP and the RCEP, and enhance the transparency. Meanwhile, analysis and study of the FTAAP should be enhanced, and the negotiation capacity building of FTAs should be vigorously carried out, in order to lay a solid foundation to realize the integration of Asia-Pacific finally.

In terms of promoting the cooperation of the global value chain and the supply chain, China hopes that guided by the APEC Strategic Blueprint for Promoting Global Value Chain Development and Cooperation and the Strategic Framework on Measurement of APEC Trade Value Added under GVCs formulated this year, APEC would comprehensively promote the cooperation in the field of global value chain policies and trade measurement, and make APEC an international example in global value chain cooperation through its benefit sharing and win-win cooperation. At the same time, APEC would continue to make efforts to get through the chokepoints of the link of the regional supply chain, and promote the practical cooperation in capacity building of the supply chain, demonstrative electronic ports, the green supply chain, customs cooperation and cross-border e-commerce, creating a favorable regional business environment.

In terms of economic and technological cooperation, China hopes that APEC would examine and implement the APEC Strategic Plan on Capacity Building to Promote Trade and Investment Development according to its own agenda and actual demands of all parties. At the same time, guided by the strategic plan, APEC would vigorously carry out pointed economic and technological cooperation and capacity building, and promote the mutual development of the liberalization of trade and investment, as well as economic and technological cooperation, in order to realize the mutual and sustainable development of the Asian-Pacific Region.

In terms of supporting the multilateral trading system, China hopes that APEC would send positive signals on continuing steadily supporting the multilateral trading system, call on all parties to promote the implementation of the鈥淏ali Package鈥agreement of the WTO, speed up the discussion on the 鈥減ost-Bali鈥work plan and promote the conclusion of the Doha Round Negotiations. Meanwhile, APEC would reiterate the determination of opposing any forms of trade protectionism, and accelerate the agreement of all parties to extend the commitment of APEC leaders that no new limitation measures of trade and investment would be adapted from 2016 to 2018.

China is willing to, together with all economies, have deep discussions on economic and trade issues, and endeavor to seek the largest consensus, in order to jointly promote the positive, practical and comprehensive achievements of the meeting.

The above are China鈥檚 envisage and expectations on five aspects of the trade and economic fields at the APEC Economic Leader鈥檚 Meeting. China is willing to have deep discussions with other economies on these issues to seek larger consensus, in order to promote the meeting to gain positive, practical and comprehensive achievements. Thank you!

Hu Suojin: Thank you, Assistant Minister Wang Shouwen. Next is the Q&A. All the journalists could ask questions in the field of economic and trade cooperation of your concern. Only one question is allowed to each person. Please inform us the press you represent.

China Radio International: This year marks the 25th anniversary of the foundation of APEC, and reviewing the cooperation history, what role has APEC played in promoting the economy of APEC and the world?

Wang Shouwen: The 21 members of APEC account for 48% of the total trade value in the world, and 57% of the global economic aggregate, therefore, the Asia-Pacific Region is an important drive force of global economic growth. During the past 25 years, namely since its foundation in 1989, APEC has played a significant role in promoting global economic and trade growth. APEC has adopted a series of measures in terms of liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment, and called for the formulation of a series of measures on liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment, gaining splendid achievements. For example, as we all know, APEC approved the 鈥淏ogor Goals鈥in 1994, determining that developed economies should embody trade and investment liberalization and facilitation in 2010 and developing members should realize trade and investment liberalization and facilitation in 2020. Through adopting measures of Bogor Declaration, during the 25 years since 1989, the actual tariff inside the Asian-Pacific region has been down 10%. Of course, not only Bogor Declaration, others also contribute, among which, a huge contribution is that the average actual tariff of APEC economies has been down 10% during the 25 years. In terms of facilitation, we also know that APEC put forward a Business Travel Card Plan, with which, entrepreneurs inside the APEC region would enjoy a convenient visa service when they visit other economies to discuss investment and trade cooperation, and the visa would be valid in several years. This plan benefits a lot to the facilitation of trade and investment. Due to these liberalization and facilitation measures, the mutual trade among APEC members and trade with economies outside the region grew seven times during the 25 years, which is a splendid contribution.

Secondly, APEC has made great contributions to the global economy during the past 25 years. When combating the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the global financial crisis in 2008, APEC formulated corresponding growth strategies, which made significant contributions to resisting the two crises. Thirdly, APEC has played a very positive supporting role in the multilateral trading system. For example, APEC was key to the success of Uruguay Rounds in 1994 and also to the launch of Doha Rounds in 2001. APEC also made undeniable contributions to the early harvest of the ninth WTO Trade Ministers鈥Meeting in Bali, Indonesia. Fourthly, which I need to especially stress is that APEC is significant to the reaching of some plurilateral agreements under the WTO framework. You may have heard about the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), which was a negotiation initiated by the APEC forum and officially launched under the WTO framework. ITA has made great contributions to the global trade in information technology products, and not only many countries, but also common customers have benefited from it. Take the mobile phone in your hands for example, many products of the mobile phone are tariff-free among members of ITA and mutual trade in parts is also tariff-free. Besides, APEC members take the lead in promoting the free trade in environmental products around the world. At present, APEC members have made the decision to reduce the import tariff of 54 environmental products to below 5% next year. To respond to the proposal of the forum of APEC, 14 WTO members launched the global environmental products negotiation in January 2014, which would benefit the environment if successful. Free trade in environmental products will gain substantial development if environmental products are tariff-free. The strengthening of trade in environmental products, which is benefitial to environmental protection, and are more inexpensive, better quality and more competitive, will do good to our environment, trade and export, so as to realize the mutual victory of trade development and environment protection. We could say that APEC has played a remarkable role in the global economy and trade in many fields. Thanks!

CCTV-2 Financial and Economy: Could you introduce the trade ministers鈥meeting to be held on November 7-8 ? What topics will be touched on and what expectations should we have?

Wang Shouwen: The APEC ministers鈥meeting will be held on November 7-8. It鈥檚 a very important meeting before the APEC Economic Leaders鈥Meeting, to be jointly attended by ministers of foreign affairs, economy and trade. As I mentioned just now, the ministers鈥檚 meeting will focus on the three topics of advancing regional economic integration, promoting innovative development, economic reform and growth, and enhancing comprehensive connectivity and infrastructure development. For example, in terms of the regional economic integration, five aspects in trade and economic areas will be touched on. In terms of promoting innovative development, economic reform and growth, the trade ministers鈥meeting will also strive for more consensus. In terms of the connectivity, it includes soft connectivity --the system connectivity, hard connectivity--the infrastructure connectivity and cultural connectivity and we expect to pass some strategic plans and blueprints in this regard. We can say that the ministerial meeting is a very important meeting before the Economic Leaders鈥Meeting and will make the endorsement and recognition for the fruits of its previous meetings including the trade ministers鈥meeting, and will serve as a very important basis for the Economic Leaders鈥Meeting.

China Daily: China initiated the launching of the APEC demonstration E-port network regarding regional economic integration, so what鈥檚 the starting point of this initiative? What concrete work will be carried out?

Zhang Shaogang: Enhancing comprehensive connectivity is an important topic of APEC this year. We all know that the trade within the Asia-Pacific region has amounted to 67% of the total trade of the region, which is really high. Therefore, to establish a rapid, quick and convenient trade model among the APEC members is vital to improving the regional trade facilitation level. In addition, the rise and application of cloud computing, big data, and the Internet of Things also provide possibilities for high efficient cooperation in regional supply chains. In this backdrop, as the host of this year鈥檚 APEC meetings, China has initiated the launching of the APEC demonstration E-port network, aiming to enhance the digital management of ports and digital connectivity of important ports and carry out paperless trading as soon as possible through promoting group or unilateral activities among APEC members. The initiative is illustrated in four aspects. Firstly, to carry out information exchanges on the demonstration e-ports, share experience and information, and explore and improve efficient ways for the connectivity of regional supply chains. Second, to study cases of demonstration e-ports, conclude successful experience and popularize them among all APEC members. Thirdly, to seek to carry out paperless trading and end-to-end sourcing projects. Fourthly, it鈥檚 of great significance to carry out specific ability construction projects. We all know that APEC members include both developed and developing countries. So ability construction projects play an important role in attracting all members to develop digital e-ports, especially that of the developing countries.

The project has got extensive and positive response immediately after it was proposed. China has made Shanghai e-port its pilot, and other APEC members also nominated their e-ports for this project. We hope that this project could connect the ports, especially the e-ports, together within the APEC region and comprehensively enhance the connectivity and opening and cooperation level in the region. The project鈥檚 current situation has given us high expectation for and much confidence in its good results. As Assistant Minister Wang just mentioned on the trade facilitation, over the past 25 years, APEC has made great efforts in trade facilitation, and especially during the two five-year periods of 2001-2006 and 2006-2011, many measures in this regard have been made by APEC. According to our calculation, also the calculation by experts from the APEC Secretariat, the cost of trade in the region was reduced by five percentage points in each of the two periods. Given the great trade volume among the APEC members, it鈥檚 really great achievement. We believe that with the construction of e-ports, we will raise the trade facilitation level among the APEC members to a greater and deeper extent.

Wall Street Journal: You just mentioned that the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) plays a very good role and benefits many countries. We know that a new round of ITA negotiations has started, aiming to strengthen its role and extend the range of products including high-tech semiconductors, GPS and some chips. The U.S. has held for long that China is unwilling to reach agreement on extending the range of products and reducing their tariffs. The U.S. believes that if China agrees with the U.S. in this regard, other countries will also be glad to join in this agreement. So will China change the attitude to the new round of ITA negotiations?

Wang Shouwen: Thank you for your question. Regarding the ongoing 鈥渆xtended range negotiations鈥漟or the ITA, China has never changed its position and has maintained a positive and supportive position for long in this respect. We believe that the extended range negotiations of the ITA are very important under the WTO framework, involving a global trade value of US$3 trillion. As we all know that the global trade totals US$18 trillion, with one sixth of them being from trade covered by the extended range of the ITA. Therefore, it鈥檚 a very important negotiation and China attaches great importance to it. Certainly, it鈥檚 a multilateral negotiation rather than a bilateral one between the U.S. and China, so we can make it only when all the parties agree on. China holds a positive and supportive attitude toward the negotiation, but any negotiation requires a balance of give and take and needs concerted efforts from all parties with concessions. Any criticism against the other party or side will do no good to the success of negotiation. Therefore, we believe that the present ITA negotiations are at a very crucial stage and hope that all parties could show their flexibility, give their creativity into full play and make joint efforts to reach the agreement. Thank you!

International Business: The global value chain is a hot issue that all parties concern, so what progress can we expect from the APEC Economic Leaders鈥Meeting?

Wang Shouwen: We have heard a lot about the global value chain. But what is a global value chain, and is it far away from our daily life and daily economic activity? Actually it鈥檚 not the case. As we all know, if one product is produced in one country and consumed in that country, it鈥檚 called domestic trade. If one product is made in one country, then it鈥檚 exported to another country or other countries, it鈥檚 called traditional international trade. Nowadays, as the globalization goes deeper and deeper, a new phenomenon comes out of the time: One product is made in many countries and also sells in many countries. Rather than in a single country, it is produced in many countries. Take one example. One product is designed in one country, but its R&D may be located in another country and its advertising and marketing is also distributed in different countries and even one production phase is finished in different countries. One or two parts are made in one country, then another two parts may be produced in another country, and its semi-finished product may be assembled in a third country while the final product is shifted to be completed in a fourth economy. The international trade has become quite complicated. At a time of globalization, the production of one product does not involve one single country but is jointly engaged by several economies until the final sales behavior. That鈥檚 where the value chain comes out of. The value chains in a certain region are called regional value chains while those around the globe are called global value chains. If more countries and more businesses are able to engage in activities on the global value chains, it will certainly bring in great significance to the development of world economy as well as the involved economies.

It鈥檚 on this basis that the Chinese side expects to make some achievements on the global value chain at the APEC meetings. For example, we hope to agree on Strategic Blueprint for APEC to Promote Global Value Chain Development and Cooperation. It鈥檚 for the first time that China has proposed a strategic blueprint in this regard. We propose to realize the trade in goods liberalization, trade in service liberalization and investment liberalization and facilitation as well on the global value chains. To make the production along the chains go on well also requires easier trade in service and two-way investment. Since developed countries play a leading role in the global value chains, so how to make developing countries get involved and lead their economic growth is very important. We also consider to make small and medium-sized enterprises engage in the global value chains via the Internet or the connectivity we just mentioned given that the present participants are some large enterprises. Small and medium-sized enterprises are very important to the global value chains, so we proposed some initiatives in the strategic blueprint regarding trade in goods, trade in services, two-way investment and developing countries鈥engagement. We hope that the APEC trade ministers鈥meeting and APEC Economic Leaders鈥Meeting could pass the important blueprint.

Secondly, we have launched the building of the APEC Global Value Chain and Trade in Value Added Database. In terms of the value chain, international trade is calculated on a value-added basis so as to reflect the depth and width of an economy鈥檚 engagement in the global value chain rather than a traditional calculation of trade volume. This database can help APEC members better know about their position in the global value chain and whether they benefit or lose from the global trade without considering the trade surplus or deficit. Therefore, we also expect the database construction to be passed.

Thirdly, we hope that the trade ministers鈥meeting could approve the initiative of Promoting the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises to Integrate into the Global Value Chains.The small and medium-sized enterprises play a very important role in promoting the innovation and employment along with the economic development. To incorporate the small and medium-sized enterprises into the global value chain construction is conducive to the regional, APEC and global economic development. So we also hope that the trade ministers鈥meeting could pass that initiative. Thank you!

Hu Suojin: As Assistant Minister Wang has said just now, the global value chain is an important topic in the economic and trade field of APEC. During the ministerial meeting, MOFCOM will arrange for two special briefings, among which one focuses on the value chain. Your attendance is most welcome.

Agence France Press: What is the idea of China on the road map of promoting the Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area (APFTA) by APEC? How many countries that China has contacted with are willing to take part in the APFTA? Do you have a timetable for the construction of the APFTA?

Wang Shouwen: Thank you for your questions. As we all know, Free Trade Areas (FTA) play an important role in promoting the development of trade and investment for members of FTAs. APEC, as a regional economic cooperation organization, proposed to build the APFTA in 2006. Consensus on the construction of the APFTA was reached by all members of APEC in 2006 and leaders of APEC have asked ministers to regard APEC as the incubator of the construction of the APFRA. APEC and the construction of the APFTA are two events and APEC should be the incubator for the construction of the APFTA. Now, there have been about 50 bilateral, trilateral and above-three-member FTAs in the region. All of them have contrituted to the development of the regional economy. But since there are so many free trade agreements and some of them have some differences with each other, they are not as beneficial as one unified FTA for the economic development of APEC as a whole. Therefore, leaders of APEC reached consensus on building the APFTA in 2006. Since 2006, everyone has made great efforts with some progress, but, it鈥檚 not enough, nor ideal. Therefore, at this informal meeting of APEC leaders, China specifically emphasizes that some concrete measures should be taken to make some progress for the implementation of the vision proposed by leaders in 2006. We should turn the vision into concrete action. At the informal meeting of APEC leaders, we especially hope to promote to realize the road map of the APFTA through APEC. It was a beautiful vision in the past, but now, we hope to formulate a road map and make efforts to realize the APFTA. In order to carry out this work, the trade and investment committee of APEC has specially set up a working group of 鈥淔riends of Chair鈥of the APFTA and China and America take the chair together. Therefore, with the lead of the working group of 鈥淔riends of Chair鈥of the APFTA, efforts are being made to actively promote the realization of the road map of the APFTA. In this road map, we hope to further strengthen strategic studies to realize the FTA within the region and do a good job in the strategic studies. Secondly, the information exchange mechanism should be strengthened. We have already had more than 50 free trade agreements and the information communication of the free trade agreements is good. Which good things can be used for reference? The information communication mechanism should be enhanced to improve transparency. Thirdly, we need to intensify the building of negotiation abilities of APEC members. Because the negotiations on free trade agreements are very complicated, involving goods, service, investment and regulations, and others. The negotiation abilities of some members are very weak and we hope that efforts can be made to help build their negotiation abilities. Therefore, in short, we hope that this leaders鈥meeting can pass the road map. In terms of the time table for implementing the road map, we hope to realize it at an early date on the basis of everyone鈥檚 consensus, the existing free trade agreements and achievements of the region. Thank you!

Bloomberg News: Recent news reports have said that the APFTA proposed by China suffers from the block of America, therefore, big breakthrough cannot be made in this APEC. What is your comment on this? Do you think that the TPP and the APFTA proposed by China reflect the Asia-Pacific economic and trade rights competition guided by China and America?

Wang Shouwen: I have just mentioned that the APFTA is not proposed by China; instead, it is the consensus of 21 members of APEC who all hope to set up the APFTA. Now I would like to tell you that in terms of the construction of the APFTA, we have gained the support of all members. Certainly, we have confidence in the discussion of the specific contents of the opposite sides and everyone鈥檚 different opinions on some contents of the APFTA can be well dealt with. The TPP that you have mentioned is a very important free trade agreement being discussed by 12 members of APEC. This APEC meeting to be held in Beijing is that of 21 members, therefore, our main attention is paid to the APFTA and the problems concerned by 21 members. I do not think that there exists block or conflict that you have just mentioned. Building the APFTA is a common wish and consensus of all 21 members of APEC.

Phoenix Satellite Television: I would like to ask about FTAAP. We want to know if the draft of the final Communiqu茅 refers to relevant topics. Because we see in some reports that America does not hope to see some words reflecting that it is beneficial to promoting the APFTA in the whole Communiqu茅. Can you help us analyze the prospect of this part in the Communiqu茅?

Wang Shouwen: I have mentioned that the construction of the APFTA is the common wish of 21 members and it鈥檚 also a very important topic at this ministerial meeting, especially the leaders鈥conference. At present, everyone positively takes a constructive attitude to negotiations and I believe that you can get clearer answers after the 鈥渕inisterial鈥meetings on November 7-8. Actually, the answer to this question was well reflected in Qingdao鈥檚 trade ministers鈥meeting in May. If you review the trade ministers鈥meeting in Qingdao, you can see in the declaration and statement of ministers that everyone has a passionate and active attitude to promoting the construction of the APFTA.

Xinhua News Agency: As Assistant Minister Wang has just mentioned, during the ministerial meetings, there may be a strategic plan on infrastructure and interconnection. Would you mind giving us more details about this? Different economies in the Asia-Pacific region may be different in the construction of infrastructure, therefore, which areas or fields should be strengthened in infrastructure construction? Do you have any good modes or methods to promote the construction or accelerate the development of infrastructure? And what kind of effect they will have on the Asia-Pacific economy and the global economy?

Wang Shouwen: The infrastructure construction, including ports, roads and aviation, is very important content of interconnection. However, interconnection consists of not only hardware, but also software, such as the liberalization of trade and investment, the rule of origin and the interaction and mutual authentication of systems which I have mentioned just now. For example, Chinese customs are promoting a program, namely helping each other to enforce the law and recognizing each other鈥檚 supervision, which are very important contents in interconnection. Therefore, significant discussions on interconnection will be conducted at the ministerial meetings because the building of this interconnection is conducive to the formation of the global value chain and the participation of all members in the economic and production activities in the region. One product, the iphone, for instance, cannot be made by a member alone. The iphone was invented by Americans and can of course be produced by them. However, if it is made in the United States, many of us may not afford it. China can also make smartphones and have many brands, but some of the brands are not as good as the iphone. If we cooperate with each other, everyone can get benefits and so can all economies. We need to improve and construct infrastructure and get through the chokepoints of the supply chain to realize more efficient and green interconnection in order to normally operate the value chain and gain further trade and investment facilitation.

Caixin Media: I would like to know more about infrastructure investment. Because, at present, there are two banks in the preparatory, one is the Asian Investment Bank and another is the BRICS Bank. Will any results be released during the APEC meetings?

Wang Shouwen: Thank you, but I'm afraid I'm not the suitable person to answer this question. You can ask our comrades of the Ministry of Finance for more information.

AASTOCKS: There have been media reports that the 14th round of negotiations on the China-ROK FTA may be held on the sidelines of the APEC meetings. What does China expect from the talks? Is it possible to reach any agreement?銆

Wang Shouwen: Negotiations on the China-ROK FTA are very important. China is the biggest trade partner to South Korea and South Korea is China's fourth biggest trade partner. The FTA negotiations will bring many opportunities for economic development of both countries. You are right, the 14th round of China-ROK FTA negotiations will be held in Beijing soon and now personnel at the technical level from both sides have begun to communicate with each other. Both sides are redoubling efforts to complete the FTA negotiations within this year, which is the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries when President Xi visited South Korea not long ago. At present, everyone is making efforts and we are looking forward to a sound result.

South China Morning Post: You have mentioned the APFTA just now. Are there any preliminary plans in the road map? When can all parties officially conduct negotiations on this issue? There have been media reports that Maher Plan of Chinese foreign investment will be discussed this year. Does the discussion on this plan before the APEC meetings have anything to do with the APFTA?

Wang Shouwen: I will answer the first question. APEC is a forum, rather than a negotiation mechanism. The issues discussed during APEC meetings are agreed by all members in line with the principle of consensus. APEC is not a negotiation mechanism, therefore, in the process of the formulation of the road map, we jointly consult that what contents can be incorporated and what measures can be taken, therefore, there are no negotiations.

National Business Daily: You have mentioned interconnection just now. Chinese high-speed rails and electricity and some other infrastructure facilities have possessed certain competitiveness. Have we estimated that what kind of increase and changes will be brought to China鈥檚 export and the adjustment of its export structure after this interconnection?

Wang Shouwen: Thank you. We all hold that interconnection can promote trade and investment greatly. Interconnection is not only beneficial to China鈥檚 export, but also good for its import. Besides, it will reduce trade costs. As for the construction of railways and ports, Chinese enterprises have better and better competitiveness and can provide better products and service. We certainly hope that other economies can adopt Chinese service and use Chinese equipment. I think that the development of this interconnection can benefit both Chinese export and import, especially considering that the State Council is studying to take some measures to expand import. Thank you!

Hu Jinsuo: Today鈥檚 briefing is over. Thank you all and you are welcome to continue your reporting at the meetings.

(All information published in this website is authentic in Chinese. English is provided for reference only. )

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