China explores ways to unleash more potential

BEIJING: China is expected to pursue greater domestic reforms and tariff cuts as it strives to join important international trade agreements and unleash the potential of high-level economic opening-up, experts and business executives said.
They also believe China will strengthen economic ties with countries such as Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand to accelerate regional economic integration.
The implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement at the start of last year has propelled China to liberalize and better facilitate trade and investment, improving the country’s preparedness to align with high-level global trade rules.
However, high-standard free trade pacts — such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership that China is seeking to join — have greater levels of openness for countries that want to join it, analysts said.
When compared with the RCEP, the CPTPP has more openness in sectors such as State-owned enterprises and designated monopolies, labor standards, transparency and environmental standards, said Chen Jianqi, a professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (National Academy of Governance).
The CPTPP also involves reduced tariffs and more restrictions on subsidies, he said. “To expand high-standard opening-up for the next phase, China will likely focus on measures like pursuing high-level tariff reduction and even elimination,” said Chen.
China’s negative list approach, which restricts and prohibits foreign investment in stipulated sectors and industries, may need to be extended to other areas to provide foreign businesses more access to Chinese markets. Chen said this will “not only expand openness in trade in goods, but also increasingly raise openness in services and the investment sectors”.
China will also likely include in new free trade agreements provisions on issues that have not been extensively covered in FTAs already signed. These issues could include the digital economy, environmental protection, labor standards, competition policies and anti-corruption measures, Chen said. The country is also expected to deepen domestic reforms to align with high-standard international economic and trade rules, he added.
The recent Central Economic Work Conference, which set the economic tone for the year, called for greater efforts to attract and utilize foreign capital, widen market access, promote the opening-up of modern service industries, and grant foreign-funded enterprises national treatment.
China will actively seek to join high-standard economic and trade agreements such as the CPTPP and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement, the conference said.
A report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October said China will steadily expand institutional opening-up with regard to rules, regulations, management and standards.
–The Daily Mail-China Daily news excahnge item