October 21st, 2009 | Xinhua China, ASEAN to further promote trade facilitation
China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) vowed in Nanning Tuesday to boost trade facilitation to build closer economic ties amid the lingering global economic crisis.
Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary General of ASEAN, urged customs of China and ASEAN to sign cooperation memorandum as to institutionalize cooperation at custom level to further boost bilateral trade.
Surin Pitsuwan made a speech to the China-ASEAN Customs-Trade Cooperation Forum at the 6th China-ASEAN Expo. The forum, focusing on trade facilitation, attracted over 260 delegates from governments, customs and enterprises of China and ASEAN members.
China has been holding annual consultation meetings with ASEAN customs and succeeded in carrying out several joint projects, Surin said, suggesting that signing cooperation memorandum would better facilitate trade and investment, and in turn boost the recovery of the world economy.
Sheng Guangzu, Director of the General Administration of Customs of China, also pointed out at the forum that the cooperation between the customs of China and ASEAN members should enter a new stage as the global economic situation keeps changing and China-ASEAN economic ties are growing closer.
The bilateral trade volume had grown three folds since the two sides started to build the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area(CAFTA) six years ago, from $59 billion in 2003 to $112 billion last year, according to official figures.
The CAFTA, which is soon to be established on Jan 1, 2010, will cover a population of 1.9 billion and conduct zero-tariff policy on 90 percent of the products traded between the two sides.
Surin expressed thanks to China’s efforts in helping ASEAN to combat the financial crisis and promote trade facilitation.
“China is now the No 3 trade partner of ASEAN, and will be No 1 very soon,” he said.
Sheng also pledged the two sides to resist trade and investment protectionism and ease trade barriers to promote international trade and global economic recovery with a more transparent, fair and open trade environment.