“The Belt and Road”: Leading New Economic Globalization

2023-06-18 22:25:01 | Author:Chi Fulin | Source:Guangmin Daily

  Economic globalization is standing at a new crossroads now. The “Belt and Road” opposes trade protectionism, advocates the establishment of open, inclusive, shared and balanced global economy, bears the new mission of promoting global trade liberalization with building free trade area network as the target, brings new ideas for economic globalization, and will become a new leading actor of economic globalization. China will also take “Belt and Road” as the focus, accelerate the establishment of big platform, big channel and big pattern open to the world, and further gain the initiative in domestic economic transformation and international market competition.

  Currently, the development environment of China, both internal and external, is undergoing profound changes. In terms of external environment, tendencies of developed countries toward trade protectionism and isolationism are intensified, resulting in rising uncertainty of economic globalization. In terms of internal environment, the trend of economic transformation and upgrading has basically come into being in China, and domestic economic transformation is increasingly intertwined with the change of international economic pattern. The bi-directional influence of economic transformation increases significantly. In such a specific context, the connotation and denotation, role definition, objectives and tasks, etc. of the “Belt and Road” in economic globalization should be determined objectively.

  Firstly, the denotation of the “Belt and Road” is unceasingly expanding. Upholding the idea of open, inclusive, shared and balanced development, the “Belt and Road” as an open initiative will become a big platform and big strategy for wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits for countries in the world including developed countries, not limited to countries along the Belt and Road, thus to play a key role in promoting new economic globalization.

  Next, the connotation of the “Belt and Road” is gradually improved. Why can the “Belt and Road” initiative gain a broad international consensus? A key reason is that the “Belt and Road” bears the important mission of promoting new economic globalization which improves its connotation. It is specifically reflected in the following three aspects: 1. The infrastructure connectivity serves as the key to realize the policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity of the “Belt and Road” initiative and meets huge demands of countries and regions along the “Belt and Road” for infrastructure construction. It can not only increase local employment and income, but also play a key role in achieving the synergy between development strategies of relevant countries and regions. 2. Currently, the countries and regions along the “Belt and Road” have cooperated with each other in production capacity and service trade. On the whole, the service trade lags behind the trade in goods and “going global” process of enterprises, as well as actual needs of capacity cooperation. The preference for trade in goods over service trade, plus low trade liberalization and facilitation, has caused the trade cost of countries and regions along the “Belt and Road” to remain high. For sustainable development of the “Belt and Road”, it is an important task to expand cooperation in the service sector while deepening capacity cooperation in the future. 3. Against the specific background of rising global trade protectionism, propelling the construction of the “Belt and Road” free trade area network has an important influence on promoting economic globalization and improving global economic governance structure. Besides, it is beneficial to enhancing confidence of various countries in global economic integration and jointly opposing trade protectionism of various forms.

  Finally, the status of the “Belt and Road” is rising. The “Belt and Road” not only includes the opening to emerging market, developing countries and transition countries, as well as western developed countries, but also combines countries and regions along the “Belt and Road” to our regional opening up and development policy. Therefore, the “Belt and Road” is not only a regional strategy, but also a big strategy leading open, inclusive, shared and balanced economic globalization, which helps build a big pattern for internally and externally interactive and integrated new development.

  Internationally, the “Belt and Road” has provided the new idea of open, inclusive, shared and balanced development for economic globalization. In future construction, we will adopt flexible and diversified multilateral and bilateral cooperation forms, accelerate the establishment of free trade area network of various forms, focus on institutional arrangement of the “Belt and Road” free trade, and continue to advance global trade liberalization. 1. Advance the integration of the “Belt and Road” with free trade area network in a pragmatic manner. Make a breakthrough at key points, from dots to lines, and then to planes. For countries where conditions are ripe, adopt the form of free trade areas. For countries where conditions are not ripe, try to carry out the free trade policy arrangement in the field of infrastructure and service, so as to make a breakthrough in free trade to some extent. 2. Advance the construction of bilateral free trade area focusing on China-EU free trade area. With rapid upgrading of Chinese residents’ consumption structure, the trade complementarity between China and Europe has significantly increased, and the potential of service trade between both parties is huge. The establishment of China-EU free trade area not only facilitates Chinese economic transformation and upgrading as well as European sustainable economic development, but also has an important influence on maintaining European economic integration and advancing global trade liberalization. 3. Establish the “Belt and Road” economic cooperation circle of various forms. Through the establishment of economic cooperation circle of various forms, carry out free trade policies of the industry, implement pilot programs for institutional arrangement of trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and set up regional trade centers. 4. Positively build cross-border economic cooperation zones together with countries and regions along the “Belt and Road”. As of the end of 2016, 77 overseas economic and trade cooperation zones have begun to take shape in 36 countries under the construction of Chinese enterprises, among which 56 are distributed in 20 countries along the “Belt and Road". Overseas economic and trade cooperation zones have become one of important carriers to advance the “Belt and Road”, which should be actively promoted in a faster way.

  Domestically, the pragmatic advancement of trade liberalization in various forms for the “Belt and Road” will form an important impetus for domestic economic opening-up and transformation. In order to fit in with the new change of economic globalization, China should advance the opening-up and transformation with the “Belt and Road” as the main carrier and service trade as the focus actively. 1. Driver the integration of the market opening of domestic service industry with service trade opening. The market opening of service industry serves as an important base of the development of service trade. For the implementation of free trade strategy in China, the key lies in service trade and the difficulty lies in market opening of service industry domestically, and ideas and policy system turn out to be the difficulty faced by market opening of service industry. Therefore, it is necessary to focus on market opening of service industry, deepen structural reform, break the monopoly, broaden social capital investment space, stimulate the market's vitality efficiently, expand effective supply for service-oriented consumption and make service industry, the "first engine” of economic growth, bigger and stronger. 2. Focus on service trade and accelerate domestic free trade area transformation. Over the years, the reform of domestic free trade areas focusing on negative list has made important progress. However, there are still 122 items on the negative list about domestic free trade areas, among which more than 80 items concern service trade. The top priority should be given to downsizing the negative list significantly, so as to try to reduce the number of items of the negative list to be less than 40. 3. Actively implement free trade policies of the industry. With specific advantages of different regions as the starting point, support regions where conditions permit to first implement free trade policies of the tourism, health care, culture, vocational education and other industries and open up a new road of opening-up and transformation. 4. Advance service trade integration in Guangdong, Hongkong and Macau, which will not only facilitate to expand the development of Guangdong, Hongkong and Macau, accelerate economic transformation and upgrading of Guangdong, drive regional economic integration of the three regions, give full play to their advantages in service trade, but also exert an important influence on promoting and serving “One Country, Two Systems”.

  In short, the opening-up and transformation focusing on service trade will provide a strong driving force for China’s economic transformation, reform and development, and make a difference to economic globalization.

                    (Author Affiliation: China (Hainan) Institute for Reform and Development)