ASEAN and China to Become Top Trade Partners by 2015

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Apr. 20 – When taken together as a group, the combined members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will become China’s top trading partners by 2015, according to the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

Made up of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, ASEAN last year overtook Japan as China’s third-largest trading partner with bilateral trade reaching US$362.3 billion. This trailed only China’s trade with the European Union (US$567.2 billion) and the United States (US$446.6 billion).

However, aided by a free trade agreement which took effect in January 2010, bilateral trade between China and ASEAN is forecast to soar over the next few years to more than US$500 billion.

“Thanks to zero tariffs, preferential trade policies and geographic advantages, both the increasing speed and scale of that trade will be in the forefront globally and ASEAN will become China’s number one trading partner by 2015,” Zhang Wei, vice-chairman of the trade organization, told the China Daily during the Sixth Chinese Enterprises Outbound Investment Conference.

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