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Saturday, March 26, 2016

China, ASEAN ink upgraded trade cooperation protocol

XINHUA

Xinhua, BEIJING: China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Sunday inked a protocol on deepened cooperation on bilateral trade.
The protocol covers a wide range such as trade in goods, services, investment, economic and technological cooperation, and is a supplement to the original agreement of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA), according to a statement by China’s Ministry of Commerce.
China vowed to improve its services in construction engineering, securities, travel agencies and tourism operators, while the ASEAN members promised to further open their service sectors to China, including commerce, telecommunication, construction, education, environment, finance, tourism and transportation.
Both sides agreed to further open their services, allow each other to establish solely-owned or joint-venture companies, and reduce regional restrictions.
The ACFTA is a free trade area between the 10 ASEAN member states and China, with its initial framework agreement signed in 2002 and the area fully completed in 2010.
Bilateral trade volume surged nearly nine times from $ 54.8 billion in 2002 to 480.4 billion in 2014, thanks to the preferential policies in the FTA.
China is the ASEAN’s largest trade partner, and ASEAN is China’s third largest partner. Mutual investment has added up to more than 150 billion U.S. dollars, the statement said.
The two sides are targeting their bilateral trade at $1 trillion by 2020.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in 2013 called for an upgraded version of the ACFTA, pledging economic and trade cooperation of a greater scope and better quality. The fourth meeting of leaders of China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries will also be held in east China's Suzhou city from today to Wednesday, providing a valuable opportunity to plan their cooperation. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and leaders from the 16 CEE countries will attend the meeting, and about 1,000 Chinese and CEE business leaders will participate in a trade and investment forum.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao said this China-CEE leaders' meeting, the first to be held in China, would be "an important occasion to inherit the past and usher in the future." Established as an annual event in Warsaw in 2012 and subsequently staged in Bucharest and Belgrade, the new platform has greatly increased scope for cooperation.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the "16+1" face a much improved situation and more established working patterns after the first three meetings. When it comes to the next step, Wang Yi said the most important thing is to take advantage of the 16 countries’ respective advantages and promote partnerships among them, notably in major projects such as the Hungary-Serbia high-speed railway.
With the theme of this year's meeting "New beginning, New fields, New vision," Wang Chao said the host country hopes to make it "a new milestone in the development of China-CEE cooperation."
The meeting will hear proposals on new measures in connecting infrastructure, investment, trade, finance, agriculture and people-to-people exchanges. As a new mode of sub-regional cooperation pioneered by China, the 16+1 has been gaining increasing attention from the international community, Wang Yi said.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said the mechanism provides a powerful supplement to China-Europe relations. Former Macedonian ambassador to China Risto Nikovski said Macedonia should try to maximize cooperation with China, "the world's economic miracle."



Source: Bangladesh newspaper- The Independent, 24 November 2015