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UPDATE 1-China’s door to outside will only open wider -…

BEIJING, March 20 (Reuters) – China will further open up its economy, and its door to the outside will only get bigger and bigger, with foreign and domestic firms allowed to compete on an equal footing, Premier Li Keqiang said on Tuesday.

China will increase access to its services and manufacturing sectors while further lowering import tariffs, Li said at his once-a-year press conference in Beijing.

“China’s economy has been so integrated with the world’s, that closing China’s door would mean blocking our way for development,” Li told reporters following the close of China’s annual meeting of parliament.

“China’s aim is to ensure that both domestic and foreign firms, and companies under all kinds of ownership structure, to be able to compete on fair terms in China’s large market.”

The familiar pledges to further open up China’s economy come as the prospect of a global trade war dominates headlines and conversations among world leaders.

U.S. President Donald Trump on March 8 announced global tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium. He is expected on Friday to announce new tariffs on up to $60 billion worth of Chinese technology and consumer goods annually, sources told Reuters.

As China further widens access to its markets, there will be no forced transfers of technology, and China will better protect intellectual property rights, Li told reporters.

China has maintained that technology transfers are not a condition of gaining market access. But Trump says Beijing has forced U.S. companies to transfer their intellectual property to China as a cost of doing business there.

A meeting in Buenos Aires of finance ministers and central bank governors of the world’s 20 biggest economies this week has been overshadowed by concerns of how a potential trade war could hurt global economic growth. (Reporting by Kevin Yao Additional reporting by Lusha Zhang Writing by Ryan Woo Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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