At the State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on Nov 6, related departments were urged to complete follow-up work of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement to expand opening-up and facilitate free trade and investment.
Two days ahead of the executive meeting, Premier Li attended the East Asian Leaders' Meetings in Bangkok, Thailand. After seven years of effort, 15 participating countries concluded text-based negotiations and essentially all market access issues.
'This is a major breakthrough in the construction of a free trade area boasting the largest population, most diversified membership and greatest potential for development,' Premier Li said. 'Under the complex world economic situation, the RCEP will boost the confidence of the market, industrial upgrading and employment, and cope with global economic downward pressure.'
The RCEP's breakthrough will be a strong support and a conducive supplement to the global multilateral trade system, according to international public opinions. It will set a good example for mutually beneficial free trade among countries at different development stages and of different systems.
'I once said last year, that RCEP negotiation has come to a stage waiting for a shot. Now the ball is in the net but still spinning. Efforts from different sides should be made to make the ball fall on the ground as soon as possible,' Premier Li said at the meeting.
A few issues still need to be negotiated by different sides. The Premier demanded related departments to cooperate with each other to complete the follow-up work in 2019, while promoting related reforms.
Premier Li said that member countries of the RCEP are at different developing levels, and can complement each other in terms of their economies to form a complete industrial chain and expand markets with huge potential for win-win results. This also will be favorable for promoting industrial upgrading and employment in China, he added.
'Chinese enterprises should grasp the opportunity, face the challenges, and actively participate in global competition and cooperation. They should also improve competence and promote industrial upgrading,' Premier Li said.
For the next steps, China should sign high-standard free-trade agreements with more countries, and build an open economic system at a higher level, thus making the Chinese economy achieve win-win development with other countries in the process of being more open, the Premier stressed.