Do you want to know more about Chinese participation in the international trade dynamics? Read Chapter 28 of China NTCs.

Chapter 28 of China NTCs deals with the analysis of international trade which is usually divided in the World Trade Organization and Regional Trade Agreements. The main goal of Regional Trade Agreement is increasing economic integration and trade liberalization. In July 2016 China entered into 14 free trade agreements. According to the Chinese Government is “a new platform to further opening up to the outside and speeding up domestic reforms, an effective approach to integrate into [the] global economy and strengthen economic cooperation with other economies, as well as particularly an important supplement to the multilateral trading system.” According to the author, there are many reasons beyond Chinese participation. These reasons are not merely economic, but also strategic and geopolitical. First of all, its participation is linked to economic considerations; Regional Trade Agreements have the potential to improve market access conditions, improving also the investment environment. Chinese need of natural resources is another reason of Regional Trade Agreements. Strategic reasons should also be considered. The China–ASEAN FTA (CAFTA), for example, is nowadays the third-largest preferential area in the world, second only to the European Union (EU) and NAFTA. It was originally created also to prove that China does not represent a danger, but rather a reliable trading partner. It has to be noticed that China’s Protocol of Accession to the WTO have some restrictive provisions because China has not been considered a full-market economy. As a consequence, the recognition of Chinese market economy status has been imposed by the country for the conclusion of Regional Trade Agreements. A section of the Chapter is focused on the ASEAN Regional Trade Agreements whose goals are enhancing market access, remaining in good economic relationships with the leading states and elevating socio-economic development. When comparing ASEAN and the Chinese approach to food safety, public health, and environmental protection, the author highlights that “consolidation” rules contribute to the creation of a variable geometry system for the implementation of the SPS Agreement. Moreover, the drafting of new SPS rules constitutes a positive evolution of international trade law towards higher standards of protection in the field of food security. In conclusion, it is worth noting that regional rules do not offer elevated standards of protection for NTCs. Regional commitments do not set enforceable obligations, as they usually call on the states to establish mere cooperation activities. On the other hand, SPS chapters and, to a certain extent, GATS plus provisions in the areas of public health and environmental services can make RTAs a powerful means to safeguard NTCs as long as a real implementation of obligations occurs at the national level. In addition to these considerations, it must be noted that, in general, ASEAN uses PTAs to promote social development more than China.