China to step up FTA talks in 2016: official

Beijing, Jan 6 (IANS) China will pursue more free trade agreements (FTAs) in 2016, an official said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a regular press conference, commerce ministry spokesperson Shen Danyang said China aims to conclude Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) talks this year.

“China will work with various parties to strive for early conclusion of the RCEP talks in 2016,” Xinhua quoted Shen as saying.

The RCEP talks involved 10 Asean member states and six dialogue partners — China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.

Negotiators have reached a consensus on key points in goods and service trade and investment.

“China will improve communication and cooperation with other parties to conclude the talks, which are important to market access, industrial cooperation and economic outlook,” Shen said.

Shen said China also expects the China-Singapore Free TRade Agreement (FTA) upgrade to complete this year, and is eyeing breakthroughs in negotiations with Japan and South Korea, as well as talks with Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Pakistan.

In addition, efforts will be made to restart talks with the Gulf Cooperation Council as soon as possible, accelerate strategic studies on an Asia-Pacific free trade area, launch negotiations on a China-Israel free trade area in due time, and push forward FTA talks with countries involved in the Belt and Road initiative, he added.

China has signed and implemented 14 FTAs covering 22 countries and regions across Asia, Latin America, Oceania and Europe.

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