Sunny prospects for China-ASEAN economy ties

By Zhang Ming'ai
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, July 1, 2011
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The free trade area established between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a win-win that has promoted the development of regional trade and economic relations, a research fellow from China's cabinet said Thursday

In an interview with, Zhang Liping, a senior research fellow at the State Council's Development Research Center (DRC), said the free trade agreement has boosted the growth of all its participants, whose complimentary economies suited them to further economic cooperation.

The China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) has promoted the development of regional trade and investment and increased labor mobility, Zhang said.

Bilateral trade between China and ASEAN has growth by leaps and bounds over the past decade, Zhang said. ASEAN has become China's 4th largest trade partner, and China is now also the largest trade partners of ASEAN other than ASEAN itself.

China-ASEAN trade approached US$300 billion in 2010, seven times higher than in 2001, Chinese statistics show.

Foreign direct investment between the two economies has also increased. According to Ministry of Commerce data, China had established nearly 2000 enterprises in ASEAN countries and employed 60,000 local employees by the end of 2009.

Intraregional tourism has already seen substantial gains. Chinese statistics showed that 4.20 million tourists from ASEAN countries visited China in 2010, accounting for over 16 percent of foreign tourists. Meanwhile, China has replaced Japan as the third largest source of tourists visiting ASEAN nations.

Three main factors have contributed to the rapid development of ties between China and ASEAN, Zhang said. Various institutional arrangements, including the CAFTA, have facilitated the intraregional movement of goods, services, capital, personnel and information.

Economies of China and ASEAN countries are largely complementary to each other, Zhang added.

The rapid development of the bilateral economic relations between China and ASEAN countries was, to a great extent, the result of the rapid development of their domestic economy, Zhang said.

These factors will remain the dominant forces promoting regional economic integration for the foreseeable future, she added.

In addition, China's efforts to expand domestic demand will help the region reduce its dependence on the third market and promote the development of regional economic integration, Zhang explained.

She suggested building a platform where enterprises in the region can find information on policies, markets, finance and personnel in all the member countries' various languages. Such a platform would enable enterprises to enhance their participation in the FTA, she said.

She also proposed setting up a CAFTA statistical analysis system to closely follow the labor, development and market trends in the CAFTA member countries.

Better data would help make those regional integration policies more reliable and effective, said Zhang.

She also said that the region needs to set up a support system for small and medium enterprise development, which will help SMEs overcome their weaknesses and share the benefits of regional economic integration.

Zhang said that she was very positive about the prospects of the future development of China-ASEAN trade and economic relations.

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