Alan Bollard, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat and former Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, joined PDO Biz's Elite Talk show recently in Beijing to talk with this author about China's economy, the hotly-discussed APEC-wide free trade initiative FTAAP, China's New Silk Road initiative and his interesting personal experience during his visits to China. Here's excerpts from the interview.
Lee: What implications does China's APEC chairmanship have for China, the other APEC economies and the rest of the world?
Bollard: Within some of policies being worked out, China has been quite innovative in terms of looking for new drivers for growth. We know that, in the past, APEC growth was driven by strong trade growth. Since the global financial crisis, trade growth has slowed down so we're looking for new growth drivers in the region; and China has made much contribution to this.
Lee: How do you see the future trade landscape in the Asia-Pacific? Do you think the FTAAP is feasible?
Bollard: We know that the FTAAP is a long-term objective. It won't suddenly reach FTAAP. But we do see that as being the big goal out into the future. Maybe TPP will be concluded this year, but it's still not secure. I think the FTAAP is feasible, but it will take some time, and it will take a lot of commitment from leaders for us to get there. So, I think it is achievable, but it will be somewhere in the future. What is quite possible is that TPP and RCEP will both need to be concluded first.
Lee: What're your thoughts on China's New Silk Road strategy? What opportunities do you think the Silk Road Economic Belt will bring to China and the other APEC economies?
Bollard: I think China's New Silk Road Strategy is very much in line with APEC's initiatives for connectivity. People are looking for new possible trade routes and if those across China can be competitive, then there will be a lot of demand for services in the region.
Lee: Lastly, I know you've travelled to China multiple times this year because of the APEC meetings. So, would you care to share with us some of your personal experience here in China?
Bollard: Ok. This year I have come to China a dozen times for a lot of meetings. It's been a very interesting experience. I had the chance to have meetings in a number of progressing cities, not just in Beijing and Shanghai, but in Xiamen, Ningbo, Macau and Qingdao. It's been a very enriching experience - seeing more places in China and seeing the huge progress it has made on infrastructure investment.