Australia/China Discuss Regional Trade Issues

Regional trade agreement is a way of making speedier progress on a wider range of issues among a smaller number of countries -- especially so for trade in services where the World Trade Organization (WTO) has just begun its difficult task of developing rules of operation, Australian Ambassador David Irvine said Saturday.

Irvine made the remark in a workshop on regional service liberalization jointly sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (MOFTEC) and the Australian Agency for International Development (AUSAID).

"Australia has a great deal of experience in trade liberalization to share with China," he said, noting that service liberalization helps reinforce domestic economic reforms, stimulate investment and achieve advantages of scale.

Yi Xiaozhun, director general of MOFTEC Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs, said that China, "as one of a few countries which have not joined any major regional economic liberalization arrangement," is currently doing some research in this regard.

Malcolm Bosworth, from Australian National University, made speeches on the importance and approaches of services liberalization, regionalism, regional trade agreements and relevant WTO provisions.

"Costly trade and investment restrictions," Bosworth said, will lead to inefficient services and higher prices, with both consumers and producers harmed and export competitiveness reduced.

Prudent regulations, however, which are allowed by the WTO provisions, are still "necessary" for a country to supervise its domestic market especially in services concerning banking and telecoms, he added.

Bosworth and other Australian experts exchanged views on these issues with Chinese delegates from different governmental branches.

The workshop is part of the Economics and Foreign Trade Training Project, which is a four-year bilateral-aid project between the governments of China and Australia.

(People's Daily 09/29/2001)

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