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Regional FTA talks likely to complete this year: Li

By Zheng Yangpeng ( Updated: 2016-03-24 11:43

Regional FTA talks likely to complete this year: Li

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivers a speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference in Boao, South China's Hainan province, March 24, 2016.[Photo by Zou Hong /]

Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday relevant parties should try to complete negotiations of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) within this year.

The statement is an injection of confidence into Asia-Pacific, which since last year has been hit by slowing growth, plunging commodity price and depreciation of local currencies. Li made the comments at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference.

RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the six states: Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit. The final round of negotiation is expected to be held in Laos in September.

"The economic situation is not optimistic, but the confidence cannot be shattered. The region, which has experienced two financial crises in the past, is not what it used to be. Contributing to one third of the global trade last year, Asia remains the most dynamic region in the world," he said.

Developing countries in the region last year grew 6.5 percent in GDP, contributing 44 percent of the world growth, according to him.

Premier vows to implement 'Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect'

Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday vowed to implement the "Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect" program within this year.

"We'll launch the Connect at an appropriate time within this year," Li said at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference.

The statement is a further indication of central government's resolve to launch the program to facilitate cross-border securities investment. Li said last week at the closing of annual legislature session that China will "work toward the launch of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect within this year".

China opened the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect at the end of 2014. Plan to further expand cross-border investment activities was delayed by the stock market rout last year.

China will adopt measures if economy runs out of 'reasonable range'

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday that the government will resolutely take comprehensive measures if the economic growth slips out of the "reasonable range."

He said the government will prevent the loss of speed and maintain economic growth within a reasonable range.

Li made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the 2016 annual conference of Boao Forum for Asia in the country's southern island province of Hainan.

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