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November 6, 2018

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Economic challenges call for new tactics

GLOBAL trade should stay on course for further opening up while international trade organizations will need to adopt new formats to deal with the changing situation, especially challenges of rising protectionism and unilateralism, participants said yesterday during the Hongqiao International Economic and Trade Forum at the China International Import Expo.

“We should separate the current anti-immigration wave from the anti-globalization rhetoric, and separate the Trump administration’s anti-trade stance from the general sentiment of US companies, most of which are supporters of free trade,” Richard Baldwin, professor of International Economics at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, said during the forum’s parallel session on Trade and Opening.

“We should understand that protectionism and unilateralism don’t represent a global trend,” Baldwin, who is also president of the Center for Economic Policy Research, insisted. “And we should distinguish all these definitions … if you single out anti-trade, the world economy will definitely collapse, but anti-immigration won’t lead to such a catastrophe.”

International Chamber of Commerce Secretary General John Denton said organizations such as the World Trade Organization need to be upgraded to fit into the demands of the 21st century for better governance instead of “protection.”

Victor K Fung, chairman of Fung Group, said that China’s position as the final stage for world production may change under the new global trade conditions but the country can seize the opportunity and move upward in the global value chain.

Long Guoqiang, senior research fellow at the Development Research Center, said China should continue to make its trade more convenient in a bid to become more competitive in the new environment. “It is important to let traders feel comfortable when doing business when technologies are available,” Long said.

The World Bank released a report last week ranking China among the top 50 economies in the world for ease of doing business, up 46 places from 78 last year.

China implemented the “largest number of reforms in the East Asia and Pacific region,” said the report, which looked at Shanghai and Beijing.

Jean-Paul Agon, chairman and CEO of L’Oreal, told the forum that the CIIE is of historical significance as “it will have a profound impact upon future trade,” when China will take a leading role.


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