China, ASEAN See Robust Trade in First Seven Months
2010/09/12

DANANG, Vietnam, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- Trade value between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) went up 49. 6 percent year-on-year in the first seven months to 161 billion U. S. dollars, with ASEAN enjoying surplus of 7.54 billion U.S. dollars, said Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming here on Thursday.

The growth rate of ASEAN's export to China is much higher than that of its import from China, said Chen at the 9th China-ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting that was held in Vietnam's central city of Danang. The margin stood at 13 percentage points.

During the first seven month, ASEAN exported 84.27 billion U.S. dollars to China, up 56.1 percent year-on-year, while it imported 76.73 billion U.S. dollars, up 43.2 percent over the same period last year, said Chen.

The China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA), which entered into force in the beginning of this year, greatly boosted the two-way trade and deepen the economic integration, said Chen.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Under the CAFTA framework, tariffs on almost 90 percent of goods in the area have been eliminated.

Chen said the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area has proven to be mutually beneficial. China would continue to push the scope and level of economic and trade cooperation with ASEAN.

Statistics from the meeting showed that China has emerged to be ASEAN's largest trading partner and ASEAN has risen to be China's 4th largest trading partner.

At the meeting, ministers from ASEAN countries hailed the development of CAFTA and discussed its further development.

According to a joint media statement of the meeting, Chinese and ASEAN ministers discussed the service trade between China and ASEAN. They welcomed the recent conclusion of negotiations on final offers for the second package of specific services commitments, and expected the signing of the Protocol to Amend the Agreement on Trade in Services at the ASEAN-China Summit in October this year.

The ministers discussed the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the region. They urged all the countries to prioritize projects and activities that support trade facilitation and the development of SMEs to ensure that they also enjoy the benefits from the CAFTA.(XINHUA)

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