On March 21, after meeting with WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng granted a brief interview to People’s Daily, Xinhua News Agency, CCTV and PHOENIX TV on such issues as priorities of current commercial work and promoting the development of multi-lateral trade system.
When answering reporter’s question about how to carry out commercial work after assuming new duties, Mr. Gao expressed that commercial work is related to the operation and development of national economy, people’s livelihood and China’s status and influence in the international community. As the new Commerce Minister, he feels the great responsibilities and honored mission on his shoulders, and will dedicate himself to advance the development of our commerce cause under the leadership of the State Council and the efforts of all staff of MOFCOM.
In terms of domestic trade, our main tasks are expanding consumption and lowering cost in circulation. MOFCOM will pay major efforts to improve circulation system for agro-products, promote the establishment of circulation system for industrial consumer goods and capital goods, vigorously develop e-commerce, especially online shopping, and advance the development of service sector such as third-party logistics, catering and accommodation industry. Meanwhile, we will strengthen market monitoring, and solve the problems of sluggish sales, high prices, market fluctuation, etc. We will also intensify IPR protection, and firmly combat IPR infringement and counterfeits. Through these measures, we will try to reach the goal of the total retail sales of consumer goods growing by 14.5%.
In terms of foreign trade, our foreign trade reached US$ 3.87 trillion last year. External environment for China's foreign trade is still faced with a lot of uncertainty, unstable factors and the pressure to expand exports. Our task of foreign trade this year is to stabilize external demands, accelerate the transformation of foreign trade as well as structural adjustment, and the formation of the new foreign trade advantages as the core of technology, brand, quality, service, and achieve the goal of foreign trade growth rate not lower than that of GDP. China will continue to improve the domestic investment environment to attract more foreign investment into China, especially high-tech and R & D presence in the Midwest of China. In terms of foreign investment, China's non-financial overseas direct investment amounted to US$ 77.2 billion in 2012, and has become the world's fifth-largest outward investor. MOFCOM will continue to support and encourage Chinese enterprises to invest overseas, to create a better policy environment for Chinese enterprises overseas investment, and to provide services to protect corporate interests.
In answering the questions of regional economic cooperation regarding to DOHA rounds and Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement, TPP, Minister Gao Hucheng said that multilateral trading system the WTO is the main channel and the cornerstone to promote global trade liberalization, and cannot be replaced by any regional agreements. WTO has more than 150 members, of which negotiated agreement has become a dominant global trade rules for a long time. Now, WTO should maintain established trade rules to resist trade protectionism. While members of WTO should strengthen pragmatic cooperation, narrow the differences, reach an agreement on the early harvest of the Doha Round, and to send a clear signal for the package to the conclusion of the Doha Round.
As for whether regional economic cooperation would undermine the multilateral trading system, Minister Gao said that in fact, the current regional trade agreements are based on multilateral rules. China hold open and inclusive attitude to regional economic cooperation, and economies around the world have the right to choose the path of economic integration. However, any custom FTA negotiations, including TPP, should be adhering to the principles of non-discrimination, tolerance, and transparency. It is a form a useful complement to the multilateral trading system and the multilateral trade rules, and not a substitute.
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