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Head of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Ministry of Commerce briefed the press on outcomes of the Trade Ministers’ Meetings on East Asia Cooperation

Q: Please brief us on the important outcomes and main consensus of the Trade Ministers’ Meetings on East Asia Cooperation.

A: From September 13 to 15, the 20th China-ASEAN (10+1) Trade Ministers’ Meeting, the 24th ASEAN Plus Three (10+3) Trade Ministers’ Meeting and the 9th East Asia Summit (10+8) Trade Ministers Meeting were held virtually. China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao attended the above meetings. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the China-ASEAN dialogue relations. The meetings were held against the background of severe global pandemic situation and fragile recovery of the world economy. With the focus on joint COVID-19 response and and common development, parties had an in-depth exchange of views on regional economic and trade issues of common concern and reached broad consensus. The meetings were attended by heads of the economic and trade departments of the ten ASEAN countries and ASEAN dialogue partners, including Japan, ROK, Australia, New Zealand, India, the United States, and Russia.

The series of meetings aim to make preparations on the trade and economic front for the East Asia Summit scheduled for this year. China will continue to firmly support ASEAN centrality in the regional architecture, promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation with all parties concerned, lead the way in healthy development of economic and trade cooperation in East Asia, boost the confidence of regional countries in fighting the epidemic and economic development, promote East Asia economic integration, facilitate the early entry into force of RCEP, and make new contributions to a closer China-ASEAN community of a shared future.

At the 10+1 meeting, the two sides spoke highly of the remarkable achievements of China-ASEAN economic and trade cooperation over the past 30 years and expressed expectations for closer and more effective cooperation in the future; reaffirmed the commitment to implementing the China-ASEAN FTA and the Upgrade Protocol and agreed to conduct joint feasibility studies to identify other areas that can further elevate the China-ASEAN FTA; agreed to continue to promote effective sub-regional cooperation such as the Lancang-Meikong cross-border economic cooperation and the China-BIMP-EAGA cooperation, and encourage more ASEAN enterprises to use important platforms such as the China International Import Expo and the China-ASEAN Expo to explore business opportunities in the Chinese market; reaffirmed commitments to work for the entry into force and implementation of RCEP as scheduled. The meeting produced three outcomes: First, the adoption of the Joint Statement on Further Enhancing Economic and Trade Cooperation on the Occasion of the 30th Anniversary of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations, which fully recognizes the achievements of economic and trade cooperation between the two sides in the past 30 years and charts the course for high-quality economic and trade cooperation under the new situation. Second, the adoption of the Report of the China-ASEAN FTA Joint Committee on the Implementation of China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, which recognizes the positive progress in the free trade cooperation between the two sides and makes arrangements for the next step. Third, parties spoke highly of the the successful exhibition of the achievements in China-ASEAN economic and trade cooperation on the 30th anniversary of the dialogue relations and the Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum, which sent a positive message to deepen the economic and trade relations between the two sides.

At the 10+3 meeting, all parties expressed their willingness to strengthen cooperation, ensure smooth and stable supply chains and industrial chains, facilitate the entry into force and implementation of RCEP as scheduled, and promote regional economic recovery and growth. Participants also heard the work report of the East Asia Business Council and agreed to strengthen dialogue with the business community to promote regional economic integration and development. The meeting produced two outcomes: first, the adoption of the ASEAN Plus Three Plan of Action on Mitigating the Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic; second, the adoption of the ASEAN Plus Three Economic Cooperation Work Programme (2021-2022), which consolidated the momentum of solidarity among 10+3 countries in fighting the epidemic and enriched the agenda of ASEAN Plus Three trade and economic cooperation.??

At the 10+8 meeting, all parties agreed that one of the priorities is to gradually restore and build a more resilient regional economy. Parties should strengthen macro policy support and keep trade and investment markets open; improve the business environment and promote cooperation on digital economy and climate change; strengthen global cooperation on vaccines and expand vaccine production capacity; support the necessary reform of the WTO and expect for meaningful deliverables at the MC12. RCEP members expressed expectations for the early entry into force of the agreement.??

Q: What are China’s expectations and considerations for further deepening the trade and economic cooperation with ASEAN and East Asian countries??

A: As the epidemic continues to wreak havoc and economic globalization encounters setbacks, the security of regional industrial and supply chains is facing challenges, thus adding uncertainties and destabilizing factors to the economic recovery and social development in the region. Based on a new stage of development, China is fostering a new development paradigm expeditiously guided by a new development philosophy. China’s efforts to expand opening up at a higher level will provide a broader market and development opportunities for countries in this region. China will work closely with countries in the region to take stock of outcomes and draft plans for the future, and promote deeper and innovative development of trade and economic cooperation under the framework of various cooperation mechanisms of East Asia.?

First, we will continue to deepen cooperation on COVID-19 response. China will actively explore with ASEAN to align the relevant trade and economic cooperation under the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF), earnestly implement President Xi Jinping’s commitment to making Chinese vaccines an international public good, join hands with countries in the region to combat the epidemic, continue to provide assistance and support to the extent possible according to the needs of the ASEAN side, and help ASEAN countries defeat the virus and resume economic development as soon as possible.

Second, we will open up new areas of pragmatic trade and economic cooperation. We will strengthen the alignment of development strategies and plans with ASEAN, and promote the high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative. We will make use of the platform of the China International Import Expo and the China-ASEAN Expo to expand trade and investment cooperation. We will follow the new trend and actively expand cooperation in new areas such as green economy, digital economy and digital trade. Efforts will be made to expand "China-Japan-ROK+" cooperation, increase investment in ASEAN in terms of capacity building and economic and technological exchanges, and help ASEAN narrow the development gap.

Third, we will press ahead with economic globalization and regional economic integration. We will deepen the development of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (FTA) and explore further expansion of two-way opening up with the ASEAN side to achieve mutual benefits. We will work with RCEP members to promote the entry into force of the agreement as scheduled. We will work with the 10+8 countries to safeguard the multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core, support the necessary reform of the WTO, and promote the positive outcome of the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference.



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