Wider opening-up makes Chinese economy thrive
The Manila Times
Foreign Business: China
BEIJING: Amid a changing and often-challenging global environment, China remains A fiRM ADVOCATE OF AN OPEN WORLD ECONOMY, TAKING PROACTIVE ACTIONS AND MAKING PROGRESS ACROSS THE BOARD IN ITS OPENING-UP ENDEAVORS. At the recent 29th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Thailand’s capital Bangkok, China reaffirmed its resolve to open up wider to a high standard, and called for efforts to open up more and improve regional economic cooperation. Consistent opening-up endeavors and steady economic growth registered over the past decade have made China an attractive destination for global investors. In 2021, foreign direct investments in the Chinese mainland surpassed 1 trillion yuan ($140.18 billion) for the first time, a 62.9-percent increase from the 2012 figure. Despite the global economic slowdown this year, foreign funds flowing into the country jumped 14.4 percent year on year to nearly 1.09 trillion yuan in the first 10 months. Bai Ming, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce, pointed to China’s stable economic performance, unwavering opening-up policy, optimized business environment and stronger protection of the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors as key factors behind the country’s strong appeal. After crossing the 100-trillion-yuan threshold in 2020, the value of China’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew to over 114 trillion yuan last year, contributing over 30 percent to world economic growth. In 2012, the GDP value was about 53.86 trillion yuan, or about 11.5 percent of the global total. This growth has shored up trade expansion. China has now become a major trading partner of more than 140 countries and regions. Its trade in goods and services reached $6.9 trillion in 2021. The country has also taken the initiative to set up multiple platforms to promote free trade in products and services. Despite disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, China has hosted several expos, including the China International Import Expo, the China International Fair for Trade in Services and the China International Consumer Products Expo. As the country seeks to open its door wider with a more marketoriented and law-based approach, institutional opening-up has been made a prominent hallmark. With a shorter negative list for foreign investment, its landmark Foreign Investment Law, and the first negative list for cross-border services trade in southern Hainan province, China has been releasing institutional dividends to enlarge the room for development for foreign enterprises and share its super-sized market. As an upholder of free trade, the country has also been working to reduce trade barriers with more partners, with 21 pilot free trade zones set up at home and 19 free trade pacts signed across the world over the past decade. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, regarded as the world’s largest free trade agreement, is one such pact. Its implementation, which started this year, is expected to help cut trade costs among member-countries and produce tangible benefits for enterprises. Under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, business ties along the route have been growing. As of the end of August, China’s accumulative volume of trade in goods with countries along the Belt and Road reached about $12 trillion. After a decade of opening-up efforts, China has seen increased foreign investment utilization, improved legal protection, a more open market access for foreign capital and a more level playing field, said Xia Qing, an official at the National Development and Reform Commission. To further align itself with highstandard international rules, China has pledged to continue to advance its accession into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement. With a population of 1.4 billion and a middle-income group that exceeds 400 million and is expected to expand further, the country boasts of the most promising market in the world. At a time when the global economy is plagued by rising protectionism and other tough challenges, China is set to create fresh opportunities for global development.