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China-ASEAN Trade Volume Up 45.3 Percent in First Half Year

Latest statistics from the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said the trade volume between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the first half of the year increased 45.3 percent year-on-year to US$34.24 billion.

"Though China and ASEAN started economic and trade exchanges from a relatively low level, the trade cooperation between the two sides grows rapidly," said Zhang Yunling, an expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The MOC statistics also showed that the export from ASEAN to China grew 55.5 percent to US$20.47 billion during the first half of the year and export from China to ASEAN rose 32.4 percent to US$13.77 billion.

MOC said ASEAN members including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines had invested in 982 projects in China with a contract value of US$2.82 billion during the first half year.

As of the end of 2002, ASEAN members had invested in 19,731 projects and the total contract value had reached US$58.09 billion.

As China's close neighbors, ASEAN members also attracted more and more Chinese enterprises. Statistics showed that China's investment in the ASEAN countries is growing 60 percent annually. As of June this year, China had invested in 822 projects in the ASEAN countries, with a contract value of US$1.37 billion.   

Zhang said although China and ASEAN countries differed in the level of economic development, the two sides were highly complementary.

China and ASEAN have started negotiations for the China-ASEAN free trade area, which is estimated to have a population of 1.7 billion people. "The great consumer market of the free trade area will help ensure the fast growing momentum of the two sides' economy," said Zhang.

(Xinhua News Agency August 18, 2003)

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