Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Kelvin Kwok on Belt & Road and Cooperation in Trade Liberalisation and Antitrust Enforcement (CUP book chapter)

in Yun Zhao (ed), International Governance and the Rule of Law in China under the Belt and Road Initiative (Cambridge University Press, September 2018), pp.104-131
Introduction: This chapter analyses China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) from the related perspectives of trade liberalisation and antitrust enforcement.  The initiative, which was first announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in late 2013, has the overarching purpose of 'promot[ing] the economic prosperity of the countries along the Belt and the Road and regional economic cooperation', 'strengthen[ing] exchanges and mutual learning development'.  Amongst the priorities of cooperation under the BRI - and the focus of this chapter - is the promotion of 'unimpeded trade' between China and the other countries participating in the BRI.
     It is argued in this chapter that, in order for the BRI to successfully achieve its objective of unimpeded trade, China and the other BRI countries need to work towards: (i) reducing transport time and costs for imports of products and inputs; (ii) trade liberalisation cooperation with a new to removing government-imposed trade barriers, and (iii) antitrust enforcement cooperation with a view to eliminating cross-border anti-competitive behaviour that hampers free trade.  Whilst the Chinese government has announced a range of infrastructure projects intended to facilitate transport between BRI countries, there has been rather limited discussion of trade liberalisation and competition policies under the initiative or of the relevance of those policies to the aforementioned priority of promoting unimpeded trade.  This chapter fills the gap by examining the BRI through the lens of trade liberalisation and anti-trust enforcement cooperation.

     The chapter begins with an introduction to the BRI, its relevance to free trade and the infrastructure projects planned under the initiative's auspices.  It then considers the general relationship between trade and competition, and argues that comprehensive trade liberalisation and competition policies emphasising cooperation amongst BRI countries are essential components of the initiative insofar as its objective to promote unimpeded trade is concerned.  The chapter then addresses the significance of trade liberalisation cooperation amongst BRI countries, as well as the design of a trade liberalisation policy suited to the initiative.  It also considers the importance of antitrust enforcement cooperation amongst BRI countries and the design of a competition policy that encompasses such cooperation...

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