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SHINE - 19 March 2020
China pushing for RCEP signing this year
By Huang Yixuan
China is working with other parties to push for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to be signed as scheduled.
Gao Feng, a Ministry of Commerce spokesman, said on Thursday that "all parties to the RCEP are committed to signing the agreement by the end of the year."
China, together with other nations, are advancing the review of legal texts and other related work in accordance with the established work plan, preparing the final text for countries to sign, the ministry said.
RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region between the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and five of its FTA partners — Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
"In addition to RCEP, we will also speed up negotiations on the China-Japan-ROK Free Trade Area, and will talk over the free trade agreement between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council. Meanwhile, we are actively pushing forward negotiations on free trade agreements with Israel, Norway, Sri Lanka and other countries, as well as upgrading negotiations with South Korea and Peru," Gao said.
The aim is to accelerate establishing a network of high-standard free trade zones that is based on neighboring countries, can radiate to Belt and Road regions, and are open to the world, so as to continue to expand the "circle of friends" of free trade partners.
The ministry also said that some of China’s key trading partners, including the European Union, the United States, South Korea and Japan, had been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, putting pressure on normal bilateral trade.
"The interests of all countries are deeply intertwined, thus in the face of the possible impact of the epidemic, we should all work together to tide over the difficulties," the ministry said.
China will step up international cooperation in the fight against the epidemic and continue to deepen its practical economic and trade cooperation with other countries under current circumstances.
"At the same time, we will do our utmost to carry out support policies and help enterprises stabilize the international market," the ministry said.
China will give full play to the role of bilateral economic and trade cooperation mechanisms to development a favorable international trade environment, and will make comprehensive use of support policies in fiscal, financial, and export credit insurance aspects.
Meanwhile, the country will encourage local authorities, industry groups and trade promotion agencies to provide necessary legal and information services to enterprises, as well as bring into play the advantages of new forms and modes in trade such as cross-border e-commerce, according to the ministry.