B&R by the Numbers: Economic and trade cooperation tops B&R agenda in ASEAN

Editor’s Note: This is the tenth installment of Belt and Road Portal's special series on the Belt and Road Big Data Report 2017.

Strengthening economic and trade cooperation is the most prevalent topic regarding the Belt and Road Initiative for media outlets and netizens in the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN), according to the Belt and Road Big Data Report 2017 published by the State Information Center.

The other main topics which the ASEAN media outlets and netizens raised were strengthening financial cooperation and investment, enterprise project implementation, concrete cooperation fields, China-ASEAN ties, the Belt and Road’s influences on ASEAN countries, opportunities and challenges, tourism development, infrastructure construction and the Belt and Road Initiative’s influence on China.

ASEAN is an important trade partner for China. The two sides have more than 10 ministerial-level meeting mechanisms and more than 20 senior official work cooperation mechanisms.

China and ASEAN have concluded negotiations on the upgrading of their free trade area. China has been ASEAN’s largest trading partner for eight consecutive years, and ASEAN has been China’s third-largest trading partner for six years in a row. The cumulative mutual investment between the two parties has exceeded US$185 billion.

In January, the construction of a 3.5 million-ton steel plant started in the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park; the China-Laos railway project started in December last year; the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone held a ceremony in June last year marking the 100th enterprise to join; the Rangoon natural gas power plant construction project kicked off in May last year.Three intergovernmental cooperation projects between China and Singapore: the Suzhou Industrial Park, Tianjin Eco-City and China-Singapore industrial zone in Chongqing, have all made new progress last year.

Experts say that Chinese enterprise investment in ASEAN not only stimulates local economic growth and creates jobs, but also helps the Chinese enterprises to form complete industrial chains as well as enhancing their status in global industrial distribution. The Belt and Road brings about win-win results to China and ASEAN.

Last year was the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the China-ASEAN dialogue partnership, and 2018 will mark the 15th anniversary of the formation of their strategic partnership.

Xu Bu, China’s ambassador to ASEAN, said building a China-ASEAN community with a shared destiny featuring win-win cooperation, shared security responsibility and common development are in the interests of the ASEAN and in line with the current global trends.

Editor: liuyue