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Interview: China promotes multilateralism, integrated trade, says former Argentine FM

Interview: China promotes multilateralism, integrated trade, says former Argentine FM

China is an "essential contributor in the search for solutions" to bolster multilateralism and integrated trade, Susana Malcorra, a former Argentine foreign minister, has said.

China is an "essential contributor in the search for solutions" to bolster multilateralism and integrated trade, Susana Malcorra, a former Argentine foreign minister, has said.

Malcorra, who served as Argentina's foreign minister from December 2015 to June 2017, made the remarks in a recent interview with Xinhua ahead of the 11th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC11) scheduled for Dec. 10-13 in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires.

Malcorra will preside over the WTO ministerial conference, which is to be attended by trade ministers from 164 economies for an exchange of views on global trade.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made clear China's stance on global trade at multiple international forums, including the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, and the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing in May, said Malcorra, who had also previously served as chef de cabinet for former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

"The fact that President Xi has so clearly stated both at Davos, where I had the opportunity to hear, and at the Belt and Road Forum, which I also attended with (Argentine) President (Mauricio) Macri ...gives China a responsibility, a role," said Malcorra.

That role "is going to be made evident at this conference, and it leads us to think that China is going to be an essential contributor in the search for solutions," she said.

China-proposed initiatives, such as the Belt and Road, are another indication of its growing leadership role in regional and global matters, she said.

"It shows China's commitment to regional integration. Expanded regional integration is a part of this enormous step to finding solutions towards greater multilateralism," Malcorra said.

The Belt and Road Initiative China proposed in 2013 comprises the overland Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, seeking to revive and expand the ancient Silk Road trade routes and connect Asia, Africa and Europe through better infrastructure, greater trade and enhanced people-to-people exchanges.

Due to the rise in trade protectionism in such major countries as the United States and Britain, Malcorra said, "It is a tough time, a time in which trade-related negotiations are undergoing a difficult phase, because there is a much more protectionist and closed-off outlook in some parts (of the world)."

The challenge meanwhile "represents opportunities for China, Argentina and others," she told Xinhua, while reaffirming Argentina's support for trade multilateralism.

"We deeply believe that the Buenos Aires (conference) is the chance to reaffirm our commitment to the multilateral system of rules, and to reaffirm our commitment to a strong WTO that leaves Buenos Aires reinforced," she said.

"What we want is to ensure we are balanced and to try to find, any way we can, solutions to the complexities of trade negotiations ... to ensure that the system leaves Argentina stronger and that (WTO) members are more committed to strengthening it, moving forward," Malcorra said.

The WTO ministerial conference is expected to discuss agriculture, and among other issues, small- and medium-sized enterprises, "which are important to developing countries," she said.

Argentina expects to benefit from a stronger WTO as "it tries to integrate with the world in a smart way, to be part of the world, to build bridges with the world, and help seek solutions to common problems," she said.

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