China's Participation in APEC Significant: Minister

A senior Chinese official said Tuesday that the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is the most important regional economic cooperation organization that China has taken part in and that China's participation in the APEC process is of great significance.

Shi Guangsheng, minister of foreign trade and economic cooperation of China and co-chair of the 13th APEC Ministerial Meeting to be held on October 17-18, made the remarks in Shanghai Tuesday in an interview.

Shi said that China has had very close trade and economic ties with other APEC members, with its trade with other APEC members reaching 344.55 billion US dollars in 2000, accounting for 72.6 percent of the nation's total.

Nine of China's top 10 trading partners are APEC economies, namely Japan, the United States, Hong Kong, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Republic of Korea, Chinese Taipei, Australia, Russia and Canada.

Contractual overseas investment in the Chinese mainland from APEC economies reached 39.75 billion US dollars last year, 63.7 percent of the total, while actual overseas investment in China from APEC economies in the same year hit US$30.05 billion, 73.8 percent of the total.

Shi said that since China joined the APEC in 1991, its trade with APEC members has kept at more than 70 percent of the country' s total trade volume and direct overseas investment in China from APEC members has made up more than 60 percent of all direct overseas investment in the country.

"It is of great significance for China to actively participate in the APEC process," Shi said, adding that China, being a member of such an important economic cooperation organization, has undoubtedly attached great importance to the APEC process.

Participation in the APEC process, Shi said, has helped China closely follow the latest development of global economic cooperation and thus make appropriate plans for its future reform and opening up.

The APEC has set the goal that developed and developing economies realize trade and investment liberalization in 2010 and 2020 respectively.

In line with the APEC process and its own needs of development, Shi said, China has drastically lowered its tariff rates several times over the last few years, with its average import tariff rate cut down to around 15 percent in 2000.

Besides, Shi said, participation in the APEC process has been conducive to creating a more stable and widely open exterior environment for China by increasing market access between the country and its major trading and investment partners.

"Chinese enterprises and their products are much more competitive than ever and a larger overseas market will provide them with even more business opportunities," Shi said.

Participation in the APEC process will also offer opportunities for China to learn advanced science and technology and managerial expertise from other APEC members, Shi said, adding that his country has already learnt a lot in areas like government procurement, international electronic business administration, and customs procedures.

By increasing economic and technological cooperation with other APEC economies, Shi said, China will be able to keep abreast with the latest developments in the world's scientific and technical fields, raising higher its own technical levels.

Shi said that China has attached equal importance to trade and investment liberalization and facilitation and economic and technical cooperation.

The principles on APEC trade facilitation passed at the APEC Trade Ministers Meeting held here in June have set guidelines for APEC trade facilitation and the proposal at the same meeting to formulate an economic and technical cooperation action plan has stepped up the actual progress of economic and technical cooperation among APEC economies, Shi said.

"These moves have laid a sound foundation for concrete results to be achieved at the upcoming APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting," Shi said.

Participants at the ministerial meeting scheduled for Wednesday will make last-minute preparations for the meeting of the leaders of APEC economies. Major topics include the early launch of a new round of multilateral trade talks of the World Trade Organization, trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and economic and technical cooperation.

"All this will no doubt have positive influence on China's cooperation with other APEC members," Shi said.

(Xinhua News Agency 10/16/2001)

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