China introduces guidelines on accelerating FTAs

Beijing, Dec 17 (IANS) To improve its free trade areas (FTAs), China will step up cooperation with neighbouring countries and improve the support and evaluation systems, according to guidelines published by the State Council on Thursday.

By speeding up FTA negotiations with neighbouring countries and lifting the level of trade liberalisation in existing FTAs, China aims to have at least the same proportion of foreign trade with its FTAs partners as most developed and emerging economies do, the document said.

Gradually, the FTA network will expand from neighbouring countries and countries along the Belt and Road initiative to most emerging economies, major developing countries, major regional economic groups, and parts of the developed world, Xinhua news agency reported.

Specifically, the guidelines encourage the opening up of the service sector including finance, education, culture, and health care, and relaxes investment access rules in child and elderly care, architectural design, accounting and auditing, logistics, and e-commerce.

The guidelines also introduce support mechanisms for FTA construction.

The third-party evaluation system will be improved for decision-making and risk control while laws on foreign investment will be updated.

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