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Special> APEC China 2014 > Archives
UPDATED: July 11, 2014 NO. 45, NOVEMBER 8, 2001
Shanghai APEC: A Focus of World Attention
By Hu Si

Like its endeavor to join the WTO. APEC membership is badly needed by China in its reform and opening-up drive. Over the past decade, as China's WTO entry was delayed time and time again, APEC membership has become a more realistic option for China to participate in economic globalization. Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Minister Shi Guangsheng noted that APEC is, so far, the most important forum for regional economic cooperation that China has ever joined.

Minister Shi said, "Since China joined APEC in 1991, China's trade volume with APEC members has kept more than 70 percent of its total trade volume, while direct investment from APEC members has maintained more than 60 percent in China's total absorption of foreign direct investment. Obviously, we have no reason to ignore such an important organization for economic cooperation."

China is an active participant and beneficiary of APEC programs. Meanwhile, it has made unremitting efforts toward the construction of APEC as an "Asia-Pacific community" and the fulfillment of its goals and objectives.

China reduced its tariff rate from 36 percent to 23 percent, then to the current 15 percent. By 2005, the tariff rate will drop to 10 percent. China has also gradually reduced its non-tariff barriers. It has signed the Information Product Protocol and will reduce tariff rates of most information products to zero by 2005. It has invested US$10 million in establishing a fund for cooperation in the high-tech industry.

The world regains confidence because of China

How to rejuvenate the economy and pull the world out of the recession was a topic of common concern at this year's APEC convention in Shanghai.

One participant said that only in reestablishing confidence will we grasp the fate of our future. Considering the current situation, the rapidly growing market of China and the Asia-Pacific region is a major source of confidence for world industry and commerce.

While the world economy has obviously slowed down, the Chinese economy this year remains robust. Its GDP in the first six months increased 7.9 percent, compared with the same period of last year. From January to August, industrial output value increased 10.4 percent; state revenue, 24.7 percent; imports and exports, 9.6 percent; and utilized foreign capital, 20.4 percent.

Steve Van Andel, President of Amway and Chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, pointed out that while economic growth is slowing down in the U.S., Japan and in other regions of the world, China is an exception. This is mainly due to the long-term development and domestic demand driven by infrastructure construction.

He said the presence of so many prominent entrepreneurs at this year's APEC CEO Summit indicates that they have confidence in the future of this organization.

The chief economist of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter pointed out in his recently released research report that he is pessimistic about the global economy, but that China is an exception. He said that in the global economic network, China is the only big country he has confidence in. He said that in the past four years, China had twice successfully overcome the impact of a world economic recession. This indicates that the risk-resistance ability of the Chinese economy is improving.

Another senior executive at the CEO Summit said that many economic issues in the Asia-Pacific region are related to China, and that ignorance of China's position would be a mistake. China's economy has shifted from labor-intensive to knowledge- and intelligence-intensive. Whether in the traditional sector of manufacturing or in the new sectors of IT, telecom and finance, China boasts outstanding talent and companies. China is bound to become a country with the most dynamic economy.

He said Shanghai was the right place to hold APEC 2001. He believes that China will play an irreplaceable role in the economic development and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region, and that China is the "beacon of hope" of the Asia-Pacific regional economy.

Temptation of China is hard to resist

The chief executive officer of a famous U.S. financial company said that under the current economic situation, China is a good place to invest in.

He said that in the next few years, China will be one of the few countries whose economy will keep growing. Although it may not be as rapid as a few years ago, it would maintain a considerable growth rate.

The American executive said that in the next few years, while expanding its business in China, his company will greatly increase its investment in the country. Although the company's revenue from its current insurance business in China is insignificant compared to that from other countries or regions, the rate of increase is the highest.

The president of Unilever Asia, a world-famous consumer goods producer, said the Asian-Pacific region has the most dynamic economy in the world, and that China will be the center of the future Asian-Pacific market.

Unilever entered China in the 1920s, and returned to the Chinese market 15 years ago after China introduced its reform and opening-up policy. So far, it has made a cumulative investment of US$800 million in China, and has established nearly 20 joint ventures or exclusively owned enterprises.

President of the Asian-Pacific Office of UPS, the world's largest parcel delivering company and express service provider, said business in the Asia-Pacific region is particularly important to UPS, because it is the second largest market outside the U.S. The growth rate of its business in the Asia-Pacific region is higher than in other regions, and the growth rate in China is higher than the average growth rate in the Asia-Pacific region.

He said that in the 1990s, when China's WTO entry was just a dream, UPS was an active supporter behind China's campaign to enter the WTO. China's WTO entry will eventually open China's service trade sector, which is exciting news to foreign businesses.

He noted that entering the WTO will be a driving force for China's reforms. In the future, foreign firms like UPS will be allowed to engage in business activities, which were previously off-limits. On April 4 this year, UPS expanded its business by opening direct routes to Beijing and Shanghai. In two or three years, he predicted there will be third or fourth direct link cities.

All signs indicate that amidst the shadow of world economic stagnation, foreign investment has quickened its pace in China.

More and more foreign firms are establishing their offices in Shanghai, the powerhouse of China's economy. Last year, 1,360 enterprises from APEC members established offices in Shanghai, with a contractual investment of US$2.72 billion. In the first eight months of this year, Japan, the United States and similar countries increased their investment in Shanghai. Japan registered the greatest increase with a contractual investment of US$1.23 billion, a 1.88-fold increase.

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