China plays major role in Southeast Asia: Singapore official

18:57, November 04, 2009      

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A Singapore senior official said on Wednesday that China has quickly established itself as a major player with substantial influence to the Southeast Asia.

Speaking at an international conference on South Asia, Singapore's Minister for Law and Second Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam said that trade between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2008 was 200 billion U.S. dollars and kept growing.

China has strong bilateral ties with many countries and gives a lot of aid and technical assistance to countries in this region, he said, adding that its open approach to Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and other similar economic engagements, has found resonance and strong support in Southeast Asia.

He said that ASEAN and China agreed to launch negotiations for an FTA in November 2001 and that a Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation was signed a year later. In 2005, the Agreement on Trade in Goods entered into force. The Trade in Services Agreement entered into force in 2007.

He added that in August this year, the Investment Agreement, which is the third and final pillar of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area, was signed. He said that China also started a 10 billion U.S. dollars China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund to finance investment cooperation, and plans to offer 15 billion U.S. dollars of commercial credit to support infrastructure development in ASEAN.

He said that ties with China will deepen and strengthen fairly quickly as China seems to have a clear strategy in this respect, and its strategy, as can be expected of China, is being executed well.

Source: Xinhua
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