ASEAN, China leaders stress importance of free trade
Leaders from 10 ASEAN countries and China met this week for the fifth China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit and stressed the need for more open trade to combat the effects of the slowing global economy, China Daily reported.
“Although the crisis would not have a major impact on ASEAN, it truly affects the manufacturing and export industries,” said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Millions of people will be affected. A diversified export framework will help us get through the crisis. We need more exports to China and India, the two economic engines for our growth in the future.”
The ASEAN nations signed a free trade agreement in 2004 that went into effect in July 2005, reducing tariff rates on 7,000 commodities. A more comprehensive FTA is expected to be completed by 2010.
China and ASEAN bilateral trade increased from $105.9 billion in 2004 to $202.5 billion in 2007, according to Chinese trade statistics. The Chinese government had set a target of $200 billion by 2010.