China, Japan stress need to protect Free Trade: Chinese Premier

Last Updated: Sat, Oct 27, 2018 17:51 hrs

Bejing: China and Japan deem it necessary to actively protect free trade in a climate of uncertainty and instability on the international stage, Chinese Premier of the State Council Li Keqiang said at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday.

Abe arrived in Beijing on Thursday for the first formal summit between the two countries' leaders since 2011.

"There are a lot of factors of uncertainty and instability in the current international environment. The sides believe that they should actively defend free trade as the two important and influential countries in the world and the region," Li said after the meeting with Abe.

The premier also stressed that China was ready to speed up the talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The RCEP negotiations were launched in November 2012 by leaders from 10 ASEAN member states and six ASEAN partner countries, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand. They are aimed at enhancing trade and investment activities in the region.

Malaysia's International Trade and Industry Ministry said earlier in October that the ongoing trade spat between Beijing and Washington had provided the impetus for the conclusion of the RCEP by the end of this year.

The RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was signed by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States in February 2016. The deal never took effect as Washington withdrew from it in January last year.

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