China’s 2016 Trade Agenda: A Primer


13th June 2016

By Margaret Myers
In its most recent Five-Year Plan, released in March 2016, China articulates a series of trade and overseas investment initiatives to help it maintain GDP growth of around 6.5 to 7 percent.
China’s trade plan, simply put, is to grow, diversify (especially toward services), and better facilitate exports. To achieve this, China explains that it will provide financial incentives for Chinese exporters, while negotiating new bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) and promoting certain mega-regional trade arrangements.
This work has already largely begun. China signed a FTA with Australia in June 2015 and is negotiating a trade agreement with the European Union. A proposed trilateral deal with Japan and South Korea would reverse the declining share of trade that Japan and South Korea represent for China.
China also continues to promote the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which has been viewed as an alternative to the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The RCEP is a mega trade agreement between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs. Its 13th round of negotiations will take place this month in New Zealand.
The looming TPP agreement has likely shaped China’s 2016-2020 trade agenda. Some of Beijing’s stated objectives, such as foreign exchange measures and proposed mechanisms for protecting of China’s overseas business interests, resemble certain …

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