Global Times - 23 August 2021
China to accelerate pace of negotiations on new FTAs: MOFCOM
China is set to upgrade its current free trade agreements (FTAs) and is actively considering joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) for further expansion of opening-up, as the agreements have played a vital role in Chinese foreign trade, an official from the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said on Monday.
According to data released by the WTO, there have been more than 350 international FTAs reached so far, among which China has signed 19 with 26 countries and regions, Wang Shouwen, vice minister of MOFCOM, said at the press conference.
"China will sign more FTAs in order to deepen the opening-up policy," Wang said, adding that the ministry will accelerate the pace of negotiations on new FTAs including the China-Japan-Korea FTA and negotiations with Israel and Norway. "We are actively considering joining the CPTPP," he said.
Wang said FTAs have played a vital role in Chinese foreign trade. In 2012, the share of FTAs in Chinese foreign trade only reached 12.3 percent, but by 2020 it reached nearly 35 percent.
In 2020, the coronavirus epidemic had a big impact on global foreign trade, but Chinese trade with its FTA partners still grew by 3.2 percent, while the volume with non-FTA partners increased by only 0.8 percent.
Moreover, in 2020, nearly 70 percent of Chinese outbound investment was targeted toward FTA countries, and 84 percent of the foreign investment in China came from FTA partners.
The FTAs have tightened Chinese economic and trade relations with its partners in the agreements, as well as stabilizing foreign trade and investment.
Wang said the government will upgrade free trade areas and accelerate the formation of a network of high-standard free trade areas, in order to support the Belt and Road initiative.