Nation to Advance Free Trade Strategy

Containers are unloaded at Qingdao Port in Shandong Province. [Photo by Yu Fangping/For China Daily]

China will advance its free trade agreement strategy to effectively connect domestic and foreign markets and relevant resources, in terms of “expanding scope, improving quality and increasing efficiency.” “, said the Ministry of Commerce on Thursday.

“Through this, China aims to provide institutional support for its high-level opening-up and better serve its construction of the new dual-circulation development pattern,” MOC spokesperson Shu Jueting said at the meeting. a press conference.

The new development pattern takes the domestic market as the mainstay while letting domestic and foreign markets reinforce each other.

The country has signed 19 free trade agreements with 26 countries and regions, and its trade value with FTA partners accounts for about 35 percent of its total trade, according to ministry data.

“China will negotiate and sign free trade agreements with more willing trading partners to jointly promote regional economic integration, trade and investment liberalization and facilitation,” she said.

“We will further increase the proportion of zero tariffs in trade in goods, expand market access for investment and trade in services, actively participate in negotiations on new rules for new areas such as the economy digital and environmental protection, and promote the construction of a new system for a higher-level open economy,” she said.

Shu also said the country will step up promotion and training on FTAs, to improve their use and bring more benefits to people and businesses.

Analysts said China is following international rules and practices such as World Trade Organization principles while pursuing its top-level opening-up, in stark contrast to recent moves by the United States.

These US measures include the discriminatory electric vehicle subsidy provisions in the recently passed US Inflation Reduction Act and the decision to take a closer look at overseas investments and transactions.

“China has never put in place special rules or standards targeting a specific nation, and the recent US measures are in fact highly discriminatory as they impose restrictions on certain industries and countries to serve US goals” , said Zhou Mi, a senior fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.

“As the global supply chain suffers from instability, the US measures have raised concerns in the market about supply chain issues, which could cause serious damage to the development of global trade,” he said. he declared.

At the conference, Shu said China is concerned about discriminatory electric vehicle subsidy provisions in the US Inflation Reduction Act.

The affected provisions allow subsidies on prerequisites such as localized assembly of whole vehicles in North America, which discriminates against affected imported products, she said, adding that these provisions are suspected of violating WTO principles such as most favored nation or MFN treatment and national treatment.

China will monitor and evaluate the follow-up to the implementation of the US Inflation Reduction Act and take measures to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests, if necessary, she said.

She also said the United States has generalized the concept of national security in recent years and made its foreign investment reviews stricter and broader, to deliberately create cumbersome procedures.

The US government should correct its abuse of security review and provide a fair, stable and predictable business environment for companies to conduct investment business, she said.

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