China, ASEAN to further Trade, Economic Relations

Economic Ministers from the 10 Member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China agreed on Monday to strengthen their trade and economic relations and dovetail the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) and the Chinese Belt & Road Initiative.

The Economic Ministers met at the 18th AEM (ASEAN Economic Ministers) MOFCOM (China’s Ministry of Commerce) Consultations, which was co-chaired by Thai Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Commerce Jurin Laksanawisit and Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen.

During the consultation, the Ministers had several discussions, mainly focusing on the opening of more commodity markets, rules for original products and a more open and free environment for investment and trade.

In a Joint Statement, the Ministers reaffirmed the ASEAN and China’s strong commitment to strengthening the robust trade and economic relations between both sides.

The Ministers particularly welcomed the increase in total merchandise trade between the ASEAN and China, which, according to preliminary ASEAN data, reached 479.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, accounting for 17.1 percent of the ASEAN’s total merchandise trade.

“China is the ASEAN’s largest trading partner, accounting for 17 percent of its global market share. The ASEAN and China will continue their cooperation in trade and free trade agreement,” said Jurin Laksanawisit.

The Statement also noted that the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows from China to the ASEAN amounted to 10.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, accounting for 6.6 percent of the organisation’s total FDI.

It also said that China has maintained its position as the ASEAN’s largest trading partner since 2009, and in 2018 China was the third external source of FDI among the ASEAN’s dialog partners.

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According to statistics from the Chinese side, the ASEAN has overtaken the United States as China’s second-largest trading partner for the first half of 2019.

In the first six months of this year, the two-way trade between China and the ASEAN reached 291.85 billion U.S. dollars, and the trade volume is expected to exceed 600 billion U.S. dollars by the end of the year.

The ministers also noted the progress of the ASEAN-China FTA (ACFTA) implementation and they welcomed the entry into force of the Protocol to Amend the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Certain Agreements there under between the ASEAN and China (ACFTA Upgrading Protocol) for all Parties.

They welcomed the implementation of the enhanced rules on trade in goods under the protocol in August 2019. The Ministers also welcomed the ACFTA Joint Committee’s decision to commence discussions on the further liberalisation of trade in goods at the ACFTA Joint Committee Meeting next year.

According to the statement, the ASEAN ministers expressed their appreciation for China’s support in enhancing the ASEAN connectivity and integration through various projects in finance, transportation and infrastructure.

The ministers welcomed and encouraged the continuous effort to dovetail the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity and the Belt & Road Initiative to strengthen the ASEAN Community building, as well as to create win-win cooperation through the utilisation of local resources.

While the two sides’ cooperation in the fields of digital economy, e-commerce, smart city and 5G have embarked on a fast lane of development, China will provide 50 million yuan (about seven million U.S. dollars) to the ASEAN in support of the construction of its economic integration in less developed countries and surrounding Nations.

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Source: Belt and Road News

Dated on: 11/9/2019

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