China renews call for building FTAAP as economic globalization falters

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China on Saturday renewed its call for pushing forward the building of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), as protectionism has dented global trade and economic integration.

The FTAAP "is a strategic initiative critical for the long-term prosperity of the Asia-Pacific," Chinese President Xi Jinping said while delivering a keynote speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Lima, Peru's capital.

"We should firmly pursue the FTAAP as an institutional mechanism for ensuring an open economy in the Asia-Pacific," he told global business leaders.

The FTAAP process was launched at the 2014 APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Beijing with the endorsement of a roadmap. A "collective strategic study" was conducted subsequently, as agreed by the APEC members, and the result should be reported to the economic leaders by the end of 2016.

Xi arrived in Peru on Friday to attend the annual APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, scheduled for Nov. 19-20 in Lima, and pay his first state visit to the Latin American country.

This year's meeting comes against the backdrop of a sluggish global recovery, lack of growth momentum, backlash against globalization, weak trade and investment, and growing global challenges that cloud economic outlook.

"The Asia-Pacific is under similar pressure and is grappling with such challenges as the fragmentation of regional economic cooperation," Xi said.

In his speech, Xi called on the 21 APEC member economies to promote an open and integrated economy, enhance connectivity to achieve interconnected development, boost reform and innovation to create more internal driving force, and promote win-win cooperation to forge strong partnership.

"For any regional trade arrangement to gain broad support, it must be open, inclusive and beneficial to all," he said, adding that "closed and exclusive arrangement is not the right choice."

The president said that the APEC members must energize trade and investment to drive growth, make free trade arrangements more open and inclusive, and uphold the multilateral trading regime.

Acknowledging that economic globalization is a "double-edged sword" with skepticism these days, the leader of the world's second largest economy said he nonetheless believes that economic globalization is in keeping with the law of economics and delivers benefits to all.

"We need to actively guide globalization, promote equity and justice, and make globalization more resilient, inclusive and sustainable, so that people will get a fair share of its benefits and will see that they have a stake in it," he said.

The president also called for implementing the consensus and outcomes of the 2014 APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Beijing and this year's G20 summit held in September in eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.

"The FTAAP will lead to more investment opportunities in and outside China. China is opening its gate and helping the developing countries in fields such as transportation and infrastructure," Carlos Galvez Pinillos, president of Peru's National Association of Minerals, Petroleum and Energy, told Xinhua.


In his speech, Xi reassured global business leaders on China's economic growth and opening-up strategy, saying that the country will carry out supply-side structural reform, accelerate the shifting of growth model, promote innovation-driven development, and replace old growth drivers with new ones.

China will also boost high-standard, two-way opening-up to deliver win-win outcomes, and push for shared and green development to make life better for its people, he said.

"China's economy has a promising future, and China's development will present great opportunities to the world," he noted.

China's economy grew 6.7 percent in the third quarter of 2016, holding steady with the first and the second quarters and strengthening hope that the central government will achieve its annual GDP growth target of 6.5 percent to 7 percent.

"We will give greater access to foreign investment and continue to set up high-standard pilot free trade zones in China," the president said.

"China's investment climate will be more open, favorable and transparent, thus allowing foreign companies to share in China's growth opportunities," he said.

The president cited that in the next five years China will import 8 trillion U.S. dollars of goods, introduce 600 billion dollars of foreign investment and invest 750 billion dollars overseas, and Chinese tourists will make over 700 million outbound visits.

"All this means a bigger market, more capital, a greater variety of products and more valuable cooperation opportunities for countries around the world," Xi said.

In his speech, Xi also briefly reviewed the interaction between China and the APEC forum since it became its member 25 years ago.

After the APEC CEO Summit, the Chinese president, along with other APEC leaders, held dialogue with representatives of the APEC Business Advisory Council, exchanging views on the FTAAP, economic integration in the Asia-Pacific, connectivity and the Chinese economy.

Also Saturday, Peng Liyuan, wife of Xi, visited Museo Larco, a museum offering one of the largest displays of ceramics in Lima, together with the spouses of some other APEC economic leaders.

Founded in 1989, APEC, grouping 21 members, now accounts for 39 percent of the global population, 60 percent of the global economy and 46 percent of the global trade.

Peru previously hosted the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in 2008. China had also hosted the meeting twice -- in 2001 in Shanghai, and in 2014 in Beijing.

Mario Mongilardi, president of the Lima Chamber of Commerce, hailed Xi's speech as an encouraging message to the business communities of the 21 APEC members.

"The president of China made an extraordinary speech today. He laid out the bases for the future growth of the world economy," he said.


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