Following is the full text of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's speech delivered Tuesday at the opening ceremony of the Third China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit:
Work together to Usher in a New Era of China-ASEAN Economic Cooperation and Trade
Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In this beautiful autumn season of October with clear skies and blooming flowers, we are meeting in Nanning today to open the Third China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit. On behalf of the Chinese Government, I wish to express warm congratulations on the opening of the Summit and extend sincere welcome to ASEAN leaders and other distinguished guests.
At the 2003 ASEAN Plus One Meeting, I proposed the holding of China-ASEAN Expo' and Business and Investment Summit, which was adopted by Chinese and ASEAN leaders. Thanks to our efforts, the China-ASEAN Expo' and Business and Investment Summit have become an important platform for deepening mutual understanding and expanding China-ASEAN business ties. The theme of the Summit is: "one need, one future". It fully reflects the growth momentum of our business ties and our shared desire to enhance cooperation between the business communities in all fields. I am confident that this Summit will go a long way towards broadening and upgrading China-ASEAN cooperation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
China and ASEAN countries are close neighbors. We have similar cultures, we have gone through similar stages of development and there is a long history of friendly contacts between our peoples. In the early 1990s, China and ASEAN initiated the process of dialogue and cooperation, opening a new chapter in China-ASEAN relations. Over the past 15 years, guided by the principle of "mutual respect, equality and mutual trust, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation", we have expanded cooperation in all fields. The all-round growth of China-ASEAN business ties has brought substantive economic benefits to both sides and become an important basis and strong driving force for boosting the overall China-ASEAN relations.
Our trade has grown rapidly. In 1991, China-ASEAN trade was only about US$8 billion. In 2005, it reached US$130.4 billion, registering an increase of 15 times. China and ASEAN are now the 4th biggest trading partner of each other. ASEAN is China's 4th biggest export market and 3rd biggest source of import.
Two-way investment has expanded. By the end of June 2006, ASEAN had made a total net investment of US$40 billion in China. In the other direction, there is also a strong growth of Chinese investment in ASEAN, which has become increasingly attractive to Chinese companies. ASEAN is now a major market for Chinese project contractors and labor services.
Regional and sub-regional cooperation between us has been enhanced. China and ASEAN have concluded agreements on trade in goods and dispute settlement mechanism and launched negotiation on trade in services and investment. The early harvest program was implemented in 2004, and China slashed tariffs on 7,000 goods from ASEAN in 2005. Today, tropical fruits like durian, mangosteen and ramboostan from Southeast Asia are popular with Chinese consumers. China's temperate zones fruits like apples, pears and oranges are now easily affordable to ASEAN consumers. Substantive steps have been taken in sub-regional economic cooperation in the Beibu Gulf rim, Greater Mekong River and East ASEAN Growth Area.
People-to-people exchanges have increased. All ten ASEAN countries are now approved destinations for Chinese tourists. In 2005, three million Chinese tourists visited ASEAN countries as the first stop of their overseas tours, accounting for one-third of the total number of outbound tourists in the year. China is also a popular destination for ASEAN tourists. In 2005, three million of them visited China, accounting for one-fifth of total foreign tourists visiting China in the year. Under the China-ASEAN framework, China trains 1,500 professionals for ASEAN countries every year.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
China and ASEAN have a combined population of 1.8 billion, and this represents a huge market. The two sides are complementary in resources, industrial structure and trade, and both are experiencing rapid development. All this promises a great future for our cooperation. We must seize this rare opportunity to broaden, enrich and upgrade our cooperation. To this end, I wish to propose the following:
First, expand trade. Both sides should work for a more enabling trading environment to facilitate trade. While continuing to promote trade in traditional commodities, the two sides should endeavor to expand trade in high value-added products including mechanical, electrical and hi-tech products. China has a trade deficit with ASEAN. But we are still committed to further opening market and increasing import from ASEAN.
Second, deepen cooperation in investment. Both sides should provide better investment promotion services to accelerate investment facilitation. The Chinese Government will honor its pledge made last year of providing five billion US dollars of preferential loans to support Chinese companies in investing and setting up business ventures in ASEAN countries. We encourage them to join in the development in ASEAN countries of trade and economic cooperation zones that have sound infrastructure and production chains linking different sectors and will spur local development. China also welcomes more ASEAN investment and greater participation in China's economic development.
Third, upgrade economic and technological cooperation. The Chinese and ASEAN companies should fully exploit the complementarity between the two sides in industry, technology and resources to enhance cooperation in agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure, resources development and processing by undertaking investment projects in diversified forms such as project contracting, equity holdings and technological cooperation. China will encourage Chinese companies to transfer applicable technologies to ASEAN. It will continue to provide human resources training to ASEAN and extend economic and technical assistance to less developed ASEAN countries to the best of its ability.
Fourth, work to build a high standard China-ASEAN free trade area. We should observe the principles set out in the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between China and ASEAN, fully implement the Agreement on Trade in Goods and speed up negotiations on trade in services and investment so as to reach agreement at an early date.
Fifth, steadily advance sub-regional cooperation between China and ASEAN. Sub-regional cooperation programs such as the East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle and the Greater Mekong Sub-region Economic Cooperation Program (GMS) are off to a good start. China supports the ASEAN integration initiative and encourages Chinese companies to participate in these sub-regional programs. We will actively explore the feasibility of conducting Pan Beibu Gulf cooperation so that sub-regional economic cooperation will become a new focus in China-ASEAN trade and economic cooperation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thanks to the reform and opening-up program started 28 years ago, China's economy is booming, and its overall national strength has been greatly enhanced. The life of the average Chinese has significantly improved, all-round social progress has been registered, and historic achievements have been made in its modernization drive. We are fully confident in our ability to sustain rapid yet stable economic growth for a long time to come. We are committed to pursuing scientific development and the policy of reform and opening-up. We will honor in good faith our WTO commitment, further open the market, improve the investment environment and create enabling conditions for foreign companies operating in China. A more prosperous and open China will bring opportunities for the development of other countries, particularly its neighbors. The Chinese Government warmly welcomes ASEAN business people to China to pursue business opportunities and greater development.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The business community plays a key role in a country's development. It also serves as a bridge linking China and ASEAN economically. I urge the business communities of both sides to strengthen cooperation and work together to usher in China-ASEAN trade and economic and investment cooperation in a new era.
In concluding, I wish the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit great success!
(Xinhua News Agency October 31, 2006)