China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement leads to new business opportunities

15:35, July 26, 2010      

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With the establishment of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, there will be a new tide of investment in ASEAN countries, said Gu Xiaosong, vice president of the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences.

"Agricultural project cooperation is taking the lead in investment and building factories in ASEAN countries," Gu said.

After the establishment of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area in January 2010, 90 percent of trade products now enjoy zero tariffs.

In the first half of this year, the total value of China-ASEAN two-way trade reached 136.5 billion U.S. dollars, growing by nearly 55 percent compared with the same period last year. Exports to ASEAN countries reached 64.6 billion U.S. dollars, up by more 45 percent, and imports from ASEAN countries reaching nearly 72 billion U.S. dollars, up by 64 percent.

From 2003 to 2008, China's direct investments in ASEAN rose from 230 million U.S. dollars to nearly 2.2 billion U.S. dollars, increasing nearly nine-fold. By April 2010, the total cumulative value of China-ASEAN two-way investments had reached 70 billion U.S. dollars, of which, China's investments in ASEAN accounted for 10 billion U.S. dollars.

At present, ASEAN has become the largest overseas partner of Guangxi State Farms. Yang Haikong, deputy director of the Guangxi State Farms Bureau, said that these outreach projects mainly include the China-Indonesia Economic and Trade Zone, which has a usable area of 5 square kilometers and investments of about 650 million yuan for the first stage.

Guangxi State Farms will also invest nearly 360 million yuan to establish a cassava starch processing base in Qui Nhon, Vietnam. It will also establish a high-quality sisal base and cassava production base in the northern part of Myanmar with an area of 100 square kilometers and a primary total investment of 13.8 million US dollars.

Furthermore, it will also establish a 10-square-kilometer cassava raw materials base in Mindanao, Philippines. In the future, Guangxi State Farms will invest in building projects such as processing cassava starch and ethanol.

"We have come to realize the importance of making full use of policies. A number of preferential policies for free economic and trade zones are waiting for us to excavate and use, and in this way, it will formulate a win-win situation for everyone involved," said Lourdes Mediran, chief executive officer of the International Exhibition Center of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry.

On July 13, the ASEAN Secretariat and officials from the department in charge of economy and trade under ASEAN countries, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, came to Nanning to attend a 20-day seminar on the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement.

"The seminar provided a communication platform to improve the bilateral cooperation between China and ASEAN," said Zheng Junjian, the China-ASEAN Expo's general secretary of the Secretariat.

"ASEAN countries mainly depend on exports to the European Union and the U.S. market, which were greatly influenced during the financial crisis. Given that some of the ASEAN countries' traditional trade partners suffered zero or even negative growth, China's big market of 1.3 billion people is a great opportunity for the ASEAN nations," said Zhang Xuegang, researcher from the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations. "East Asia will also consolidate its position as the engine of global recovery with the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area in the lead."

By People's Daily Online


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