HONOLULU (Reuters) - President Hu Jintao sought to soothe the nerves of foreign businesses over market conditions in China on Saturday and vowed to boost his country’s global role amid growing uncertainty and trade protectionism.
“The new mechanism for global economic governance should reflect the changes in the world economic landscape,” Hu told executives at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Honolulu.
“It should observe the principle of mutual respect and collective decision-making and increase the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries,” he said, urging a more “balanced partnership” for development and governance.
Hu and U.S. President Barack Obama, who spoke at the same forum shortly after the Chinese leader, have not seen eye to eye on how to address pan-Pacific trade among the 21 APEC members during the annual summit.
Relations between Washington and Beijing are beset by disagreements over China’s trade and currency practices, arms sales to Taiwan, China’s military buildup in the Pacific and China’s human rights record.
China has been reluctant to sign trade deals that would subject it to U.S-led efforts to further open its economy to foreign players because that would put pressure on its state-owned enterprises.
The differing views were captured on Friday in a politely pointed exchange between American and Chinese trade officials, when the U.S. trade representative refuted China’s claim that it had not been invited to join a regional free-trade pact being negotiated by at least nine countries.
On Saturday, Hu said China was committed to free trade in the Asia-Pacific but also called for progress in the stalled Doha round of trade talks at the World Trade Organization.
“We should advance the Doha round negotiations and endeavor to reap an early harvest agreement within this year on giving tariff-free, quota-free products from the least-developed countries,” Hu said, adding the world should “firmly oppose and jointly resist protectionism.”
Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by John O'Callaghan