Chinese Premier Xi Jinping has continued to echo his warning against a lurch towards protectionism and has reaffirmed his committed to open up China’s ‘super-sized’ economy as countries across the world look to chart a post-pandemic economic recovery.
Speaking to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), President Xi claimed that China would not be retreating into a more protectionist attitude: ‘We will not reverse course or run against the historical trend by “decoupling” or forming a small circle to keep others out’.
‘In today’s world where economic globalisation has become an irreversible trend, no country can develop itself by keeping its doors closed’, President Xi added.
The speech to APEC follows the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest free trade agreement covering a third of global GDP. China’s membership of the agreement is considered particularly significant as it is the first multilateral agreement Beijing is party to, leading the world’s second largest economy to pursue deals with the European Union.
The signing of RCEP and China’s rhetorical rejection of protectionism may accelerate a change in US trade policy to the Asia-Pacific region. While it is unlikely the United States will rapidly liberalise trade due to domestic concerns over jobs and investment, a shift towards greater enforcement of a rules based system is more certain.
On Wednesday, American and South Korean business groups called on President Trump to eliminate national security tariffs on steel, aluminium and other products, to promote a global rules based trading system and cooperation on 5G mobile and other technologies.