Premier Wen Jiabao delivers a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the sixth ASEM Finance Ministers' Meeting in Tianjin on June 26
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to begin by expressing, on behalf of the Chinese Government, our warm congratulations on the opening of the Sixth ASEM Finance Ministers' Meeting (FMM) in Tianjin and our most sincere welcome to all participants. This first finance ministers' meeting of an enlarged ASEM will be a good opportunity to explore strategies for ASEM economic and financial co-operation under the current situation and to discuss major issues in the world economy.
The meeting is expected to be fruitful and to produce two documents: a Chairman's Statement of the Sixth ASEM FMM and a Tianjin Initiative on Closer ASEM Economic and Financial Co-operation, which will have a significant influence on advancing closer ASEM economic partnership.
The founding of ASEM is a strategic choice of Asia and Europe to step up co-operation under the new international situation. Since the first ASEM meeting in 1996, Asia and Europe have been keen to conduct political dialogue, economic co-operation and scientific, technological and cultural exchanges. This has helped the growth of the ASEM partnership and contributed significantly to world peace and development.
Asia is by far the most dynamic economy in the world while the EU is the world's largest developed economy. Their co-operation truly has broad prospects. The enlarged ASEM, whose member countries have two-fifths of the world's population and over half of the world's total GDP, will play an even greater role in world affairs. Since Asia and Europe both face important opportunities and new challenges, we need to strengthen co-operation in all areas to bring into play our respective advantages in a joint effort to surmount difficulties and risks, and lift ASEM co-operation to a new high.
Economic co-operation is the basis of the new ASEM comprehensive partnership. Fiscal and financial co-operation will play a crucial role. Asia and Europe must deepen their financial co-operation in this sector if they are to foster closer economic partnership, achieve win-win results and promote common development. To that end, I would like to make the following five recommendations.
First, strengthen dialogue and co-ordination on macro-economic policies. It is of great importance for Asian and European countries to regularly exchange economic and policy information through increased dialogue, communication and consultation to jointly deal with risks and challenges facing the world economy. To promote the sustainable and steady development of the world economy, we need to pool efforts and adopt responsible macro-economic policies to maintain the stability of the major reserve currencies, curb big fluctuations in oil prices and prevent the rise of trade protectionism in all forms. The Chinese Government proposes establishing an ASEM Contingency Dialogue Mechanism for Emergent Economic and Financial Events within the framework of the ASEM FMM to safeguard economic and financial security.
Second, we must increase exchanges on development experience. We should have in-depth discussions on development paths and strategies and increase exchanges to share experiences in regional integration and success stories in macro-economic regulations and restructuring under open conditions. Later this year, China and the United Kingdom will co-sponsor a "Fiscal Policy and Public Debts Forum" within the framework of the ASEM FMM. All the finance ministers of Asian and European countries and members of their financial communities are welcome to take part.
Third, we should deepen co-operation in fiscal and financial sectors. We should actively explore and advance such co-operation between Asia and Europe to develop the Asian regional bond market and support the role of the euro in maintaining international financial stability and promoting development, so as to enhance the international standing of our two continents in the monetary and financial fields. We should also give full scope to the role of the ASEM Trust Fund in assisting underdeveloped members of ASEM in financial reforms.
Fourth, we must strengthen technical assistance and financial capacity building. Given the uneven development between Asian and European countries, we should give more support to poor countries in the region through vigorous technical assistance so as to promote the realization of UN Millennium Development Goals. China, the European Commission and Austria will jointly launch an ASEM financial capacity-building project and entrust the Shanghai National Accounting Institute with its implementation.
Fifth, we should foster an environment for win-win international economic-operation. We should, through co-ordination and co-operation, encourage the international community to pay more attention to the interests of developing countries by writing off their debts, increasing development aid and speeding up technology transfer. We should also facilitate the reform of international financial and trade systems, promote an early conclusion of the WTO Doha negotiations and call for innovative thinking in international development so as to establish a sound new international economic order.
China has achieved sustained and rapid economic growth, markedly enhanced overall national strength and constantly improved lives since adopting the reform and opening-up policy. In the past two years, we took some effective macro-economic measures to address prominent problems in the economy and the Chinese economy has been in good shape. We will continue to take measures to further tackle existing problems, with a view to achieving long-term, steady and fast growth of the Chinese economy. China's development depends on our efforts, our own vast domestic market, abundant labour resources and the implementation of the reform and opening-up policy.
We are confident, capable and resourceful. We can overcome any difficulty and risk on the road ahead and reach our goal of social-economic development. China's development is conducive to the stability and prosperity of the region and peace and development in the whole world. It will not threaten or have an adverse impact on any country.
Now, I would like to spend a few minutes on the issue of the RMB exchange rate, which has been a focus of attention both at home and abroad. I have three points to make. First, it is understood around the world that every country is entitled to choose an exchange rate mechanism and policy suitable to its own national conditions.
Back in the early 1990s, China set out targets and tasks for the reform of the RMB exchange rate mechanism. That is, to gradually establish a market-based and well-managed floating exchange rate system so as to keep the RMB exchange rate basically stable at a reasonable level. Over the past decade and more, we have done a lot to reform the RMB exchange rate mechanism and made important progress.
Second, keeping the RMB exchange rate basically stable at a reasonable and balanced level is in the interests of economic development not only in China but also in neighbouring countries and the region as a whole, and contributes to the world's financial stability and the expansion of trade. This point was well illustrated during the Asian financial crisis in 1997, when the stable RMB helped alleviate the pain of neighbouring countries and regions and contribute to economic and financial stability and development in Asia and the rest of the world.
Third, we must uphold the principles of independent initiative, controllability and gradual progress in pursuing RMB exchange rate reform. By "independent initiative," we mean to independently determine the modality, content and timing of reforms in accordance with China's needs. Regarding exchange rate reform, we should take account of the possible impact on the country's macro-economic stability, economic growth and the job market and give consideration to the state of the financial system, the level of financial regulations, the resilience of enterprises and the effect on foreign trade. We should also keep an eye on the economic and financial performance of neighbouring countries and regions and the rest of the world.
By "controllability," we mean to properly manage changes in the RMB exchange rate at the level of macro-regulations. We must push forward reforms but always stay on top of the changes, so as to prevent fluctuations in the financial market and economic instability.
By "gradual progress," we mean to push forward reforms step-by-step. We must take into consideration both present needs and future development and guard against undue haste. In short, we need to continue improving the RMB exchange rate forming mechanism and develop an exchange rate system that is more market-oriented and more flexible. However, since this reform involves many areas and will have a far-reaching impact, it requires a great deal of preparation to help create the best environment for all sides to deal with the consequences. Such a responsible attitude of China will contribute to the stability and development of not only the Chinese macro-economy but also the economy of the surrounding countries and the larger world.
There is an old saying in China: "Distance cannot separate true friends who feel close even when they are thousands of miles apart." China and other Asian countries are linked by common mountains and rivers and together they created splendid Asian civilizations. The ancient and beautiful Silk Road is a witness to Sino-European exchanges over thousands of years. Now, the mutually beneficial co-operation between China and other countries in Asia and Europe is entering a brand new stage.
China has become a positive force for the economic development of Asia, Europe and the world as a whole. We will adhere to the road of peaceful development and remain committed to developing vigorous all-round co-operation, featuring long-term stability, with other countries in Asia and Europe. It is our hope that China and other countries in Asia and Europe will support each other and join hands to move forward.
May I conclude by hoping this ASEM FMM is a complete success.
The annual investment gala, China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT), will open in Xiamen, Fujian Province on September 8, and will boast “three new highlights”, said the city’s mayor Zhang Changping.
These will include three simulta-neous events of an ASEM (Asia-Eu-rope Meeting) Trade and Investment Expo (ASEM Expo), a high-profile seminar on APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) members’ Intellectual Property Protection (IPR) co-operation and exchange and the first cross-Straits tourism expo, he said.
In addition, the trade fair has been upgraded from the former China Fair for Investment and Trade to the China International Fair for Investment and Trade, to reflect its international profile which has risen tremendously in recently years.
The ASEM Trade and Investment Expo was proposed by Premier Wen Jiabao during the Fifth ASEM Leader Conference last year, and will gather high-ranking officials from 39 members of ASEM.
And the tourism expo was pro-posed by Vice-Premier Wu Yi, aimed at showcasing the abundant tourism resources across the Straits and enhancing exchanges and co-operation.
Government officials, entrepre-neurs and researchers of 21 APEC members will participate in the IPR forum, giving even greater depth to analysis and exchanges on the topic of IPR protection.
Zhang also told reporters that the overseas spread of CIFIT’s influence has led recently to it being absorbed into the top ranks of glo-bal expos – the Global Association of Exhibition Industry – becoming the only investment fair among the association’s listed fairs.
“This marks the fair becomes more professional, internationalized and market-orientated,” he said.
The organizing committee, he added, is well-prepared for the fair. To date, more than 1,400 exhibition booths of the planned 1,500 have been leased. Exhibitors from 28 countries, includ-ing Canada, France and Sweden, are actively attending the event.
Many global big-name compa-nies including Volvo and Kodak registered early on to participate in the fair.
Companies from 58 countries and regions responded to the fair’s invitation and they have formed 206 groups to attend.
During the fair, countries including Sweden, France, Italy, Nigeria, Spain, Belgium, Jordan and Poland will organize investment promotion seminars or activities to showcase their investment climate and opportunities.
Sweden and France, along with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, also plan to stage pavilion days to demonstrate their investment projects and favourable policies.
Projects on luring foreign inves-tors, co-operation between domes-tic enterprises, Chinese firms going overseas and projects from members of ASEM countries will be other highlights of the fair.
To date, the total number of this year’s investment projects has reached 10,900, of which 374 are projects by foreign countries.
The high-profile seminar “2005 International Investment Forum” will gather State leaders, renowned scholars and top entrepreneurs to exchange viewpoints.
Three roundtable meetings on the friendly cities’ co-operation, capital markets and business chambers, sponsored by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the China Council for the Promotion of Inter-national Trade, will be held during the fair.
To accelerate cross-Straits economic co-operation, a forum on agricultural products will attract many enterprises from Taiwan Province.
Zhang also said the organizing committee has specially set up a working co-ordination committee, composed of ten groups to be in charge of the comprehensive co-ordination work.
Sources with the organizing com-mittee said that last year about 5,566 investment contracts were hammered out, and the utilized overseas invest-ment reached US$94.3 billion, with contracted trade volume exceeding US$5.5 billion.
Emerging host city
Known as a pearl in East China, the beautiful port city Xianmen, the fair’s host, has become a hot invest-ment destination of many Fortune 500 firms and a business hub in the country’s east.
“The past eight sessions of the fair have greatly lifted the city’s image as an ideal investment destination in China,” said the mayor.
Currently, Fujian Province is implementing its strategy to establish the Western Bank Economic Zone, a business zone composed of major cities in the province along the western banks of the Straits to enhance trade ties with Taiwan.
And Xiamen is striving to become a business hub of the zone.
“The fair becomes more professional, internationalized and market-orientated.”
Mayor of Xiamen