China Center for International Economic Exchanges

Wei Jianguo: Seizing the Opportunity to Promote the China-Japan-Korea FTA negotiation
Date:Dec 07,2018    Source:CCIEE

During the G20 summit concluded not long ago, China’s President Xi Jinping met with many foreign leaders to discuss a wide range of topics. Not only the meeting between the Chinese and US leaders attracted the attention the world, the meeting between the Chinese and Japanese leaders also has great significance.

Promoting regional economic development actively

At the meeting between President Xi Jinping and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the two sides once again stressed the need to strive for an early conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the China-Japan-Korea Free Trade Agreement. In response to the current global economic downturn, trade protectionism and unilateralism, China and Japan, as the world’s second and third largest economies, have shown their willingness to jointly promote the negotiation on the RCEP and the China-Japan-Korea FTA, sending a clear message to the rest of the world that they will actively promote regional economic development.

Apart from the willingness of the two leaders, the negotiations on the RCEP and FTA enjoy a sound external conditions as the Chinese and American leaders decided not to add new tariffs on each other’s goods, which will help to facilitate the process of the China-Japan-Korea FTA.

Due to geopolitical influence, the China-Japan-Korea FTA negotiations will inevitably be interfered by the US. The Sino-US trade frictions will delay the conclusion of some FTA-related rules. Taking the auto industry as an example, if the zero-tariff clause of motor vehicles is reached between China, Japan and South Korea, it will make the US unhappy with its allies like Japan and South Korea. The US will then pressurize them and slow down the entire negotiation process. With the easing of trade friction between China and the United States, the Sino-US trade relations will have less influence on the FTA negotiations among China, Japan and South Korea. Therefore, we must seize the opportunity to speed up the negotiation and strive for substantial progress.

Coping with WTO reform together

In addition to joint promotion of regional economic development, the Chinese and Japanese leaders have reaffirmed the multilateral trading system that safeguards free trade and based on the World Trade Organization, and proposed to strengthen communication and coordination in multilateral affairs.

As the beneficiaries of free trade, both China and Japan recognize the principles of openness, inclusiveness, non-discrimination, protect the rights of developing countries, policies and core values of the WTO. At the same time, China and Japan also have great potential for cooperation. They want to promote the development of the WTO and help it to meet the new developing trend. Areas such as digital economy, cross-border e-commerce and finance will be reformed by the WTO, China and Japan can work together to formulate new rules in these areas.

In fact, Japan supported China when it was applying to join the WTO at the beginning. In July 1999, Japan and China reached a comprehensive agreement, making it one of the early countries in the West to complete negotiations with China. After China’s accession to the WTO, the mainstream media in Japan also made positive comments and had high expectations on the new business opportunities that followed. China and Japan should work together to address the WTO reform and offer their advice.

Next year, the G20 summit will be held in Osaka, Japan, which will bring the Sino-Japanese cooperation to a higher level. The meeting of the leaders of the two countries during the past G20 has drawn new prospects for the development of Sino-Japanese relations under the current new situation.

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