周密:中国申请加入CPTPP彰显其对贸易和改革的承诺

来源:观察者网

2021-10-01 10:43

周密

周密作者

商务部国际贸易经济合作研究院美洲与大洋洲研究所副所长

【导读】 9月29日,商务部国际贸易经济合作研究院美洲与大洋洲研究所副所长、中国论坛特约专家周密在《南华早报》发表评论文章“China’s CPTPP bid underlines its commitment to trade and reform”。 周密认为,宣布加入CPTPP是一个强烈的信号,向世界表明了北京对进一步开展国际经济合作持开放态度。中国愿意在国际和国内做出改变,以促进一个更加一体化的国际秩序,为所有人带来更大的繁荣。 中国论坛授权翻译,以飨读者。英文版系周密与中国论坛助理李泽西共同撰写。

【文/中国论坛特约专家 周密】

中国本月提交了加入《全面与进步跨太平洋伙伴关系协定》(CPTPP)的正式申请。在这个国际贸易动荡,中国砥砺改革的时期,这是一个强烈的信号,表明中国打算继续在国际上保持开放姿态,在国内进一步提高经济水平。

当然,这个贸易协定并是新鲜。美国在2017年1月退出了拟议中的《跨太平洋伙伴关系协定》(TPP),即CPTPP的前身,扼杀了TPP生效的可能。剩下的11个TPP国家随后对原协定进行了一些调整,并将该协定作为CPTPP推出。尽管该协议于2018年就已经生效了,但是出于担心CPTPP潜在的不利经济影响,签署国的批准速度很慢。比如由于国内大规模的反对,智利就尚未批准该协定。

造成这种担忧的部分原因源于CPTPP的独特性质。它不是一个“普通”的贸易协定,所有缔约方承诺主要是通过削减关税来减少贸易壁垒;它还要求所有缔约国提高其经济标准,以为彼此换取更多市场准入的机会。这种义务与回报之间的平衡为各方提供了一个更加公平的竞争环境,但可能会以牺牲部分国家主权为代价,因为CPTPP授权建立特设仲裁机构,会让任何违反条约的国家承担后果。CPTPP涉及过去的贸易条约大多回避的领域,包括为成员国制定知识产权、劳工、国有企业、ESG(环境、社会与企业管理)和投资标准,以换取彼此之间的“原产地权”准入。通过协调各国的经济大环境,这些标准允许CPTPP国家在更公平的条件下进行贸易。因此,没有任何一个国家可以通过过度且不可持续地剥削国内生产要素而获得不公平的贸易优势。

这就是为什么中国宣布申请加入CPTPP是如此的重要。尽管由于政治和经济上的重重阻挠,中国实际加入CPTPP的可能性不大,但这对世界和中国社会来说都是一个强有力的声明。中国向世界表明了自己对进一步开展国际经济合作持开放态度。

在国际贸易方面,中国既取得了成功,签署了《区域全面经济伙伴关系协定》(RCEP),也遇到了挫折,《中欧全面投资协定》(CAI)进展受阻。但中国既不会固步自封,也不会因为逆风而气馁。中国愿意在国际和国内做出改变,以促进一个更加一体化的国际秩序,为所有人带来更大的繁荣。RCEP是一个更传统的自由贸易协定,类似于过去签署的自由贸易协定。中国已经认识到,再往前迈进需要比以往更大的雄心,未来的贸易协议将远远不止于单纯的关税,而会是涉及全球经济运转模式的更广泛的再平衡。中国加入CPTPP的愿望反映了这一更宏大的野心。

在国内,中国政府已经表明了提高中国经济质量和水平的决心。过去,在我们还很贫困,中国的整体经济和生产规模落后于人口少得多的国家时,经济增长是首要目标。政府的当务之急是保障人民吃饱饭的权利。中国脱贫攻坚战的胜利意味着政府可以进入马斯洛需求层次的下一级。早在2014年,中国就已经开始从单纯关注经济增长,转向关注其他衡量繁荣和幸福的指标。第一个重大举措就是向雾霾“宣战”。在过去的两年里,这个新的使命已经逐渐发展为更广泛的进步运动,以改善全社会为其主旨,类似于美国进步人士在20世纪初所做的那样。这方面最突出的例子包括承诺到2060年实现碳中和,反对垄断,以及更加关注家庭和学生所面临的压力等。

这些改变并不是出于为了加入CPTPP或任何其他国际贸易协定,尽管这些举措进一步激励了改革。中国政府,像全世界所有其他政府一样,最根本上是对人民负责,它将致力于在正确的时机以正确的方式改善民生。这个时机就是现在。如果中国加入CPTPP,公平互惠地与其他11个国家开放经济和市场,这一目标将更有效地实现,但无论结果如何,中国的追求都始终不变。

中国加入CPTPP仍面临一些挑战,其中最主要的是透明度要求、知识产权保护、工人权利、国有企业标准,以及默许某种程度的外部压力。然而,即使在这些改革的“硬骨头”方面,中国也显示了做出必要调整的意愿,并没有将这些来自外部的要求视为不公平的施压,而是把它们看作一个机会,证明自己是国际社会中负责且富有生产力的一员。

中国已经准备好迎接挑战。有些反对者可能不愿意承认,但是中国仍然是一个充满活力的力量,随时准备着自我完善,并与国际社会携手构建一个为尽可能多的人谋福祉的国际体系。

翻译:李泽西

校译:许馨匀 韩桦

China’s CPTPP bid underlines its commitment to trade and reform

Zhou Mi

China submitted its formal application this month to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). During this time of turbulence in international trade, and of progress and reform in China, it serves as a strong signal that China intends to stay open internationally and improve economic standards domestically.

The trade pact is not new, of course. The US withdrawal in January 2017 of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, the CPTPP’s predecessor, ended any chance of the TPP coming into effect. The remaining 11 TPP countries then made some adjustments to the original agreement and launched the pact as the CPTPP. Despite the agreement coming into effect in 2018, however, ratification by all signatories has been slow, due to concerns about potential adverse economic impacts. Chile has yet to ratify the agreement because of major domestic opposition.

The reason for such concern is partly due to the unique nature of the CPTPP, which is not simply a “normal” trade agreement whereby all parties pledge to reduce trade barriers, mainly through cutting tariffs. It also confers on all parties responsibilities to raise the standards of their economy in exchange for greater access to each other’s markets. This balance between obligation and reward affords all parties a more even playing field, at the potential expense of national sovereignty, as the CPTPP empowers the creation of ad hoc arbitration bodies and subsequent consequences for any party that violates the treaty. The CPTPP addresses areas that past treaties have mostly shied away from, including setting standards on intellectual property, labour, state-owned enterprises, ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) and investment for member states, in exchange for obtaining “right of origin” access to each other. By harmonising the broader context within which economic activity takes places, these standards allow CPTPP countries to trade under fairer conditions, so that no one country can gain an unfair advantage by ruthlessly and unsustainably exploiting domestic factors of production.

This is why China declaring its desire to join the CPTPP is so important. While actual entry into the trade pact may be uncertain, due to the high political and economic barriers, this serves as a powerful statement both to the world and to Chinese society. To the world, China has shown that it will maintain an open attitude to further international economic cooperation.

On international trade, China has had both successes, in the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and setbacks, in the stalling of progress on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment between China and the EU. But it will neither rest on its laurels nor be discouraged by unfavourable headwinds. It is willing to make changes, both internationally and domestically, to promote a more integrated international order that can deliver greater prosperity to all. The RCEP is a more traditional free-trade agreement, similar to the FTAs signed in the past. China has recognised that moving forwards requires greater ambition than before, that future trade deals will extend far beyond simply tariffs, and will be a broader rebalancing of how the global economy is conducted. China’s desire to join the CPTPP reflects that greater ambition.

Domestically, the government has shown that it is determined to improve the quality and standards of the Chinese economy. In the past, when poverty was rife and China’s overall economic activity and production lagged behind countries with far smaller populations, economic growth was the paramount goal. The government’s priority was to secure people’s right to put food on the table. Success in the war on poverty meant that the government could move to the next rungs on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. From as far back as 2014, China has started to move away from a focus purely on economic growth, towards looking at other measures of prosperity and happiness. Its first major move was to declare a war on smog. This has gradually grown into a broader progressive push over the past two years to improve society for all, much as the American progressives did in the early 20th century. The most prominent examples of this include the pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, moves against monopolies, and a greater focus on the excessive pressure placed on families and students, among others.

These moves were not made out of a desire to join the CPTPP, or any other international agreement for that matter, although these would act as a further incentive. The Chinese government, like all other governments, is ultimately responsible to its people, and it will always look for the right time and right ways to improve people’s welfare. That time is clearly now. This goal will be more effectively achieved for China if it is in the CPTPP, with fair and mutual market access to 11 other countries’ economies and markets, but it will be pursued regardless.

There remain challenges for Chinese entry into the CPTPP. Chief among them are the transparency requirements, IP protection, workers’ rights, standards for state-owned enterprises, and acquiescence to some degree of external pressure. However, even on these tougher fronts for reforms, China is showing its willingness to make necessary adjustments, and not view these external requirements as unfair pressure, but instead as another opportunity to prove itself as a responsible and productive member of the international community.

China is up to the challenge. Contrary to naysayers, it remains a dynamic power that is ready to improve itself, and help construct a global system that works for the benefit of as many people as possible.

Dr Zhou Mi is a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, and a China Forum expert.

Lee Jersey Wang is a China Forum associate.

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