APEC leaders to sign cooperation agreements, work on free trade


China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi is pictured on video screens as he speaks at the start of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit ministerial meetings at the China National Convention Centre (CNCC) in Beijing on November 7, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO / POOL / GREG BAKER

Top government officials from APEC member nations will meet on Tuesday, where they are expected to sign agreements on everything from corruption to food safety. But the issue likely to spur the most debate is how to pave the way forward for Pacific Rim trade. CCTV America’s Nathan King reported this story.

Since 1989, tariff levels have been cut by two-thirds, and the Pacific Rim has seen its wealth double to more than $30 trillion. APEC leaders will be discussing how a region that accounts for nearly half of all global trade can keep growing when there are increasing differences over its direction.

Host China has secured an agreement by APEC ministers to study what is known in trade circles as FTAAP, a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific. While this idea has been part of APEC thinking for a while, the United States has been pushing for a different regional free-trade agreement: The Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP, currently being negotiated by 12 countries, but does not include China.

The TPP is a tough trade agreement that even some of the United State’s biggest and fastest growing partners are finding difficult to accept.

Japan may have to open its agricultural markets such as rice to foreign competition. There are also strict rules on intellectual property, market access, and state owned enterprises.

Some economists have said these provisions make it a kind of “any country but China” trade agreement. China has recently said it would like to talk about joining, but the process may be too far along for that.

“It would have been very hard to bring a big country like China into the negotiation at that point. At the same time, I think the Chinese concern is understandable. That’s why U.S., in my view, should be willing to start talking now, considering how to roll the TPP into a broader AFTA [ASEAN Free Trade Area] at a second stage,” said Fred Bergsten, a senior fellow at Peterson Institute.

There are also differences when it comes to investment in infrastructure for the Pacific Rim. Last month, 20 economies and China signed a pledge to create a Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank(AIIB). It was widely reported that the U.S.had lobbied allies such as Australia to stay away from the launch.

The U.S. fears the AIIB could rival the Asian Development Bank and World Bank, and become a source of Chinese influence in the region.

Strategic mistrust between the U.S. and China has been a focus of discussion this week in Washington as policy makers and experts prepare for APEC and the Beijing meeting between the Chinese and U.S. presidents. Many said only leadership from the top can provide a breakthrough.

“I think what the Chinese are proposing and what the Americans are proposing are both aimed at achieving the same goal, which is deep economic integration that brings productive gains to all the parties. What we are talking about is how fast should we progress on this journey, and I think it would go a lot faster if pushed by the two biggest powers,” said Wing Thye Woo an economics professor University of California, Davis.

Mike Bastin of Beijing’s University of International Business discusses APEC

CCTV America interviewed Mike Bastin, a visiting professor at Beijing’s University of International Business, about the possibility of creating a Pacific-wide free-trade zone. Bastin also discussed the relationship between Russia and western countries.

Mexico President’s APEC trip aimed at improving trade ties with China

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and a host of high-level officials will travel to the APEC forum and begin an official visit to China. CCTV America’s Franc Contreras reported this story from Mexico City.

Mexico’s most important Asian trading partner is China. The leaders of both nations have already met on at least three other occasions in an effort to improve relations. According to one expert, Mexico is looking for ways to increase its exports to China.

“China is demanding almost anything from semiconductors to shrimps to garments oil row material etc. It is interesting that more than 50 percent of Mexico’s exports to China today are mainly oil and copper,” said Enrique Dussel Peters, an expert on Mexico and China relations.

During a recent meeting with Mexico’s top economic officials and banking industry executives, President Nieto briefly discussed APEC’s role in Mexico’s future.

“It has been a strategic free trade alliance among our countries, and for democracy and the rule of law, that has allowed us to form this Pacific alliance, which we also share with Chile, Peru and Colombia.” President Nieto said.

Mexico step towards increased trade with China and recently signed a contract worth $4.3 billion to build what will be Latin America’s first high-speed train, linking the city of Queretaro and Mexico City.

After attending the APEC meeting held in Beijing, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will begin his official visit to the country and meet with Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, a meeting aimed at improving trade ties.

Mexico is Latin America’s second largest economy and it has been a member of the APEC forum since 1993 around the same time Mexico entered the North American Free Trade Agreement, with Canada and the United States. For a decade, Mexico focused on its trade ties with the U.S. According to the U.S. Trade Representative website, commerce with Mexico totaled an estimated $536 billion in 2012.

Ding Yifan of China’s Institute of World Development discusses APEC

CCTV America interviewed Ding Yifan, a senior official at the Development Research Center of China’s State Council, on China’s role in boosting APEC members cooperation.

Canadian PM kicks off China trip with focus on economic and diplomatic issues

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrived in Beijing to begin five-day visit to China to strengthen longstanding trade ties with China and set a direction for future Canada-China relations. CCTV America’s Kristiaan Yeo reported this story.

Harper will attend the Canada-China Business Forum, the first day of the APEC leaders meeting and hold talks with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

Trade was top of the agenda in Hangzhou on Thursday. Harper met with officials and business leaders, while announcing the opening of four new trade offices in China, to help Canadian companies get a foot into China’s fastest growing regions.

The Canadian Prime Minister faces pressure to improve relations with China after two high profile diplomatic incidents this year.

In July, Canada accused Chinese hackers of breaking into government computers. A week later, authorities in China detained a Canadian couple for suspected spying.

“Harper’s coming up for re-election soon. He’s had a somewhat rocky relationship with China. Relations of trust in diplomacy are very, very influential and sometimes can transcend other differences between the countries in terms of policy or philosophy. So I’d say it’s essential,” said Lisa Mar, professor at Chinese-Canadian studies at the University of Toronto.

The Prime Minister will leave the APEC meeting early to attend Remembrance Day in Canada on November 11th.