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  China-ASEAN reach basic consensus on world's largest free trade area         ★★★ 【字体:
China-ASEAN reach basic consensus on world's largest free trade area
作者:佚名    文章来源:东盟    点击数:2998    更新时间:2007-7-27    
 

CHINA-TRADE-ASEAN - 05/21/2004 12:42 - AFP

BEIJING, May 21 (AFP) - Negotiations on establishing a China-ASEAN free trade area are set to wind up ahead of schedule next month after the parties reached a basic consensus that would create the world's biggest trade zone, state press reported Friday. China and the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations were in agreement on a trade arrangement which would cover 1.7 billion consumers with a combined gross domestic product of two trillion dollars, the China Daily said quoting sources close to the talks. ASEAN, which hopes to have its own free trade area beginning 2010 and a European-style single market 10 years later, currently only has plans in the works with China, South Korea and India. Agriculture, information and communication technologies, human resources development, investment and the development of the Mekong River were identified as priorities for co-operation between ASEAN and China, the newspaper said. Observers said the climate for the negotiations was good although some reservations remain among a number of ASEAN nations -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. "The technical negotiations are not the biggest block to the FTA (free trade area), compared to worries about a 'China threat' in some ASEAN member countries," the newspaper quoted Zhao Jinping, an official with China's Development Research Centre of the State Council as saying. China's trade with ASEAN hit a record high 78.25 billion dollars in 2003, up 42.8 percent from 2002, according to official statistics from the General Administration of Customs. China's imports from ASEAN jumped 51.7 percent to 47.33 billion dollars last year while exports grew at a slower pace of 31.1 percent to 30.93 billion dollars, leaving a trade deficit of 16.4 billion dollars. Despite the increase in trade, Zhao said establishing a free trade area would be more complex than that of the world's two other major commercial zone agreements -- the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Asian countries differ significantly in terms of their social conditions, he said. Meanwhile, China and Singapore are expected to begin negotiations on a free trade agreement in November, the city-state's Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said earlier this month. Australia and New Zealand are also in bilateral discussions with China on similar trade links. bms/mp/dv

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