Thursday, December 31, 2009

Backgrounder: Development of China-ASEAN trade relations

Source: Xinhua

BEIJING, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will establish a free trade zone on Friday to strengthen their trade cooperation and liberalize two-way investment.

The following are some key facts about the development of China-ASEAN trade relations.

China and ASEAN started their dialogue in 1991. With their economic links becoming closer, their trade volume jumped from 6.3billion U.S. dollars in 1991 to 18.44 billion dollars in 1995 and more than 20 billion dollars in 1996.

In December 1997, leaders of the two sides issued a joint declaration at the first China-ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur, establishing guidelines and common policies to build their relationship in the 21st century.

Bilateral trade volume continued to grow, registering 27.2 billion dollars in 1999, 39.52 billion dollars in 2000, more than 40 billion dollars in 2001.

China and ASEAN signed the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation in November 2002, with the aim of establishing a China-ASEAN free trade zone by 2010.

In November 2004, China and ASEAN signed a free trade goods agreement and dispute settlement agreement at the eighth China-ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, capital of the Laos.

In the same year, bilateral trade reached a record 105.9 billion dollars, exceeding the 100-billion-dollar target a year ahead of schedule.

The two sides began reducing tariffs at the start of 2005. In that year, their trade topped 130 billion dollars, more than 15 times the 1991 total.

In 2007, their trade reached a new high, registering 202.6 billion dollars. Last year, it grew to 231.12 billion, maintaining14 percent growth despite the global financial crisis.

So far, China has become the third largest trading partner of ASEAN, while ASEAN has become the fourth largest of China.

The China-ASEAN free trade agreement, covering a combined population of 1.9 billion and a combined gross domestic product close to 6 trillion dollars, will be the world's third largest free trade area.

The free trade area incorporates China and Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Editor: Wang Guanqun

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