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Improving Chinese brand awareness in ASEAN markets

By Bao Chang (China Daily)

13:34, May 24, 2013

Buyers inspect apples from Shaanxi province at the China-ASEAN expo in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. [Photo/Provided to China Daily]

Experts say negative opinions of quality pose 'big obstacle' for exports to major trading partner

China is to strengthen its efforts at improving brand awareness in Association of Southeast Asian Nations markets, a region now considered the country's third-largest trading partner.

"Despite strong bilateral trade ties, some Chinese goods are still regarded as fake or of poor quality in ASEAN markets," said Xu Ningning, executive secretary-general at the China-ASEAN Business Council.

"The unfavorable image has become a big obstacle for the export of those Chinese goods that are actually of high quality to the markets.

"So improving Chinese brand image in ASEAN is a major driver for growing bilateral trade, and the basis of solid economic relations between the two sides."

Xu was speaking at a news conference to showcase trade links between China and ASEAN, at which 60 key products were highlighted, spread across various sectors including food, medicine, construction materials, agricultural products and plastics.

From January to April, bilateral trade was worth $138.97 billion, an 18.1 percent year-on-year increase. China's exports to ASEAN grew 30.6 percent in the period.

"Amid a sluggish global economy, economic cooperation between China and ASEAN is rising and an increasing number of enterprises have expanded in each other's markets," added Xu.

He said efforts to grow awareness of China's most famous brands in ASEAN will strengthen bilateral trade.

China is ASEAN's largest trading partner and biggest export destination, while ASEAN is China's third-largest trading partner and its fourth biggest export destination - strong two-way traffic which has boomed since the conclusion of the China-ASEAN free trade agreement in 2010.

China's trade with Malaysia, its largest single trade partner within ASEAN, has also been growing, with the volume reaching $33.88 billion during the first quarter of this year, a rise of 23.9 percent on the same period last year.

China's Ningxia Light and Textile Industrial Bureau sealed an agreement with Malaysia's East Economic Region in January, to seek investment opportunities in the global Halal food industry.

Ong Chong Yi, minister counselor in economic affairs at the Malaysian embassy in Beijing, said: "China can leverage on Malaysian expertise in Halal certification to expand its market to Muslim countries all over the world, and Malaysia can export more varieties of Halal food products to the Chinese market."

According to Ong, one private Chinese company already plans to establish a Muslim food-transiting center in Malaysia to export more Muslim food to the country and other foreign markets.

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