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Mutually Beneficial China-ASEAN Services Agreement
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The Chinese Commerce Ministry commented Sunday that the China-ASEAN agreement on trade in services constitutes a major step forward in building the China-ASEAN free trade area  

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries signed The Agreement on Trade in Services of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area in Cebu, the second largest city of the Philippines, on Sunday.  



The Ministry of Commerce spokesperson said China and ASEAN countries would further open the services sector, creating bilaterally improved market access following the agreement.


The signing proved yet another milestone charting the course of China-ASEAN economic cooperation and trade, said the spokesperson, adding that it kept the completion of the China-ASEAN FTA on schedule.


Under the agreement, China will allow auto maintenance companies from ASEAN countries to create subsidiaries in China as well as foreign-owned sewage treatment and garbage disposal companies.


Singapore and Brunei have both opened their maritime transport sector to Chinese companies while some ASEAN countries have done the same with the hotel and catering sector, allowing Chinese companies to set up joint ventures there.


The spokesperson said consumers in China and ASEAN countries would thus benefit from an increased choice in services, while companies in related sectors would improve their competitiveness by going global.


In recent years, China and ASEAN countries have enjoyed frequent exchanges in sectors such as education, transport, energy, culture and medical services. All 10 ASEAN member countries have become approved destinations for Chinese tourists.


The spokesperson spoke of the China-ASEAN agreement on trade in services as the first of its kind under a FTA framework between China and other countries.


China has initiated negotiations to build 11 free trade areas, involving 28 countries and regions.


The China-ASEAN free trade area comprises Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Scheduled for completion by 2010, it will become the world's third largest free trade area after the European Union and the North American free trade area.


(Xinhua News Agency January 15, 2007)

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