China to launch first FTA this week

16:49, December 29, 2009      

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The China-ASEAN free trade area (FTA) will be launched this Friday on January 1 2010. Currently, China is co-building 14 free trade areas with 31 countries and regions, involving one-fourth of China's foreign trade volume in 2008. 8 free trade agreements have been signed, of which, 7 have already been implemented.

China's Minister for Commerce Chen Deming said recently that while trade protectionism is increasing and multi-lateral negotiations are progressing with difficulty, accelerating the construction of free trade areas is becoming more urgent.

Chen emphasized the active establishment of a global free trade network, promotes the ongoing free trade area negotiations and wants to accelerate the feasibility studies of the China-Japan-South Korea Free Trade Zone and other free trade areas, in order to pave the way for timely negotiations.

As one of the first China began to construct, the China-ASEAN free trade area undoubtedly serves as a significant model and milestone in establishing free trade areas to promote China’s foreign cooperation.

Xu Ningning, deputy secretary-general of the China-ASEAN Business Council, said that the China-ASEAN free trade area is the first free trade area China has built with foreign parties for regional trade participation, which is also the first and most important step that China has taken. Over the past decade with the construction of free trade areas, the China-ASEAN economic and trade cooperation has developed rapidly, which has promoted cooperation between both sides in politics, society and culture, and has accelerated the East Asian economic integration.

Huo Jianguo, head of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation affiliated with the Ministry of Commerce (MOC), said that after the free trade area becomes fully operational, about 7,000 types of trade products, accounting for about 90 percent of China-ASEAN’s total trade products, will enjoy a zero-tariff policy. Relevant trade service and investment agreements will also be successively implemented. Huo said that this is a significant event in China's regional trade cooperation and will certainly have a significant influence on China-ASEAN economic and trade development.

Huo added that the China-ASEAN free trade area enjoys a bright development prospect. China and ASEAN share many historic and cultural backgrounds, but only minor nationalistic differences. They find more in common. They are both emerging economies in the current world economic competition pattern, and have an urgent demand for development and huge economic growth potentials. Under current circumstances, strengthening regional cooperation and promoting regional economic integration are the common needs of both China and ASEAN members, and are also in accordance with the overall trend of the current regional trade development.

By People's Daily Online
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