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Time is mature for Chinese banks to explore SE Asian market
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16:07, October 31, 2007

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It was time for Chinese banks to start launching businesses in Southeast Asia, given the fact that China's domestic banking sector was getting ready for the opening-up ASEAN market, a senior banker has said at an ongoing business forum in Nanning.

Speaking at the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in south China city of Nanning, Bank of China vice president Wang Yongli said most Chinese banks have confined their operations to the domestic market.

"But it is a strategic necessity for us Chinese banks to gear up and grow ourselves into international institutions, because we have to be part of the global system. The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) market is of special significance in the process," Wang told hundreds of officials and businessmen involved in the banking industry.

Chinese banks could possess the presence in the ASEAN market by providing financing services in support of local infrastructural construction, he said.

China and ASEAN were each other's fourth largest trade partner last year, with bilateral trade in goods totaling 160 billion U.S. dollars. The two sides were also pushing for a free trade area targeted for 2010.

ASEAN countries based banks now have 36 branches in China, whereas the Bank of China is the only Chinese bank operating in ASEAN countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore.

Most of the other Chinese banks had yet to outline general strategies or develop detailed plans for exploring the ASEAN market, Wang said.

China has undertaken to gradually open up its banking sector to outside competitors under the World Trade Organization framework, most ASEAN countries have not completely opened their gates.

China and ASEAN were currently in talks over cross-border investment policies, with agreements targeted for next year to allow Chinese banks easier access to ASEAN markets, Commerce Ministry Spokesman Yao Shenhong has said at the China-ASEAN Expo, an event side by side with the China-ASEAN business summit on Oct. 28-31.

China and the ASEAN member states in January signed the CAFTA Agreement on Trade in Services under the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between China and ASEAN, pledging to further open up numerous industries to each other.


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