Protectionist measures will never be rewarded and only opening-up and mutually beneficial policies can bring in economic prosperity for the Asian and global economies, senior experts said on Sunday before the opening of the Boao Forum for Asia in Boao, Hainan province.
Free trade serves as the engine for economic growth, with openness expected to be the fuel. Closing doors will result in nothing but being left behind, said Zhang Yuyan, director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Zhang said China will absolutely deepen its opening-up and reforms to win more growth opportunities.
As to the white-hot Sino-U.S. trade disputes now on everyone's mind, Zhang said it might be a US tactic to win more bargaining power in future trade talks.
In Zhang's eyes, the current U.S. trade protectionist measures will backfire on the US and will hurt both sides. However, the measures are designated more to confine the development of China's high-technology industries, Zhang said.
Trade protectionism is the wrong remedy for major economic problems in the U.S., such as low saving rate and over consumption, Zhou Wenzhong, secretary general of 2018 Boao Forum for Asia, said on Sunday.
The forum released three annual reports on Sunday, titled Asian Competitiveness, Progress of Asian Economic Integration and Development of Emerging Economies. They highlight the current economic environment in Asia and list key challenges to regional growth.
Asia did not and may not move out of the shadows of violent external environments and internal uncertainties in 2018, and challenges include the deceleration of global value chains, the vacancy left by the US exit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the narrowness of the internal demand and lack of collective efforts to reform the financial system, according to the reports.
Wu Xiaoqiu, vice-president of Renmin University of China, said on Sunday at Boao that if a trade war cannot be avoided, it will definitely influence the capital markets — and the US capital market will suffer more than China's.
Some of China's industries in the equity market that rely on external demand will be influenced more, he said.
"What I don't expect is the escalation of the Sino-U.S. trade conflicts, especially for any financial retaliatory measure, and I suggested the two sides deal with the dispute within the World Trade Organization framework," Wu said.
Against the backdrop of rising trade protectionism and slower investment growth, Asian countries have to reignite the negotiation for a regional comprehensive economic partnership, Lin Guijun, vice-president of University of International Business and Economics, recommended.