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China-ASEAN FTA Steps into Implementation Period

With cooperation between China and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) deepening, the construction of a China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (FTA) has entered a full-spectrum cooperation period, said Chong Quan, spokesman for the Commerce Ministry in NanningTuesday.

He made the above remarks at the ongoing second China-ASEAN Exposition news briefing conference.

Statistics provided by the Ministry of Commerce show that in the 2002-2004 period, the bilateral trade volume between China and ASEAN has seen annual growth of 38.9 percent.

In 2004, the China-ASEAN bilateral trade volume reached US$105.9 billion, one year ahead of the schedule.

China-ASEAN has achieved US$59.76 billion of bilateral trade volume in the first half of 2005, an increase of 25 percent over the same period last year.

ASEAN has risen to the fourth largest trade partner of China. Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines have entered the array of China's top 20 trade partners.

An international expo aiming to promote free trade area construction, the China-ASEAN Expo has showcased its political and economic significance.

At the seventh China-ASEAN leaders meeting in 2003, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao proposed the launching of the China-ASEAN expo in 2004, and set it as an annual event, an idea which was warmly welcomed by ASEAN leaders.

Chong Quan said that focusing on trade cooperation in the FTA, the China-ASEAN expo strives to promote trade cooperation between China and ASEAN, and realize prosperity in the whole region.

(Xinhua News Agency October 19, 2005)

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