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UPDATED: 13:32, September 05, 2004
China seeks greater trade volume with ASEAN
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China will make more efforts to boost its trade volume with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), one of China's most important trading partners to date and together have promising economic cooperation in the future, a Chinese official said in Jakarta on September 4.

"For the time being, the two-way trade volume between ASEAN nations and China accounts for 11 percent of China's overall external trade. But I believe this proportion will greatly increase in the upcoming years and probably double," Chinese Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai said.

He noted that last year, trade between China and ASEAN grew 40 percent compared to the previous year and similarly, in the first half of this year, China and ASEAN have registered another 40 percent year-on-year increase.

"So I'm quite confident to believe that after we accomplished agreements in terms of both trade in goods and trade in services, this growth rate will be even greater," Bo told a press conference shortly after a meeting with the economic ministers of ASEAN.

He said that after the meeting, China "will definitely not slowdown the works and negotiations with ASEAN and we will make even greater efforts to push ahead our bilateral talks over trade and services and bilateral investment issues to push ahead the overall trade relationship."

Bo is in Jakarta to attend the third consultation between China and ASEAN economic ministers.

A statement issued by both sides shows that ASEAN exports to and imports from China reached 47.3 billion US dollars and 30.9 billion dollars in 2003, respectively. These represent an increaseof 51.7 percent and 31.2 percent, respectively from the previous year.

In the first seven months of this year, ASEAN exports to and imports from China have reached 34.5 billion dollars and 22.2 billion dollars, respectively, a respective increase of 40.7 percent and 34.1 percent from the same period of 2003.

Bo also expressed gratitude to ASEAN countries which announced recognition of China's full market economy status earlier in the day.

"On behalf of my government I would like to express my appreciation to all of you for the recognition of China's full market economy status," he told ASEAN ministers who were joining the press conference.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.

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