President Xi Jinping of China has announced that his country does not plan to ‘decouple’ or exclude other countries in trade at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum. He also asserted that China was open to signing more free-trade agreements with other countries to boost its regional influence amid uncertainty about the new United States of America (USA) administration (Joe Biden was recently projected to be president-elect following the US presidential elections).
Mr. Xi said, “Openness enables a country to move forward, while seclusion holds it back.”
This Apec forum was chaired by Malaysia. According to Xi, China would not go back in history to undo its integration into the world economy nor would it isolate itself. He added that China would continue to open up to foreign investors and take part in more multilateral trade mechanisms.
“We will continue pushing for liberalisation of trade and investment and sign more high-standard free-trade agreements with other countries.”
Xi’s remarks came after leaders from 15 countries in the Indo-Pacific region signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest free-trade deal involving the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
The trade pact, which covers about 30 per cent of the world’s population and gross domestic product, could help Beijing expand its influence in the region and counter pressure from the China-US economic decoupling.
It remains to be seen which direction Biden will take regarding multilateral trade agreements which President Donald Trump has formerly denounced.