Roundup: China-ASEAN FTA provides enormous benefits to enterprises, peoples in both regions

Updated: October 24, 2023 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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Passengers disembark from a plane at the Chinese-invested Siem Reap Angkor International Airport (SAI) in Siem Reap province, Cambodia on Oct. 16, 2023.(Photo by Sao Khuth/Xinhua)

Official data shows the bilateral trade volume between China and ASEAN had increased from about 100 billion U.S. dollars in 2004 to 975.3 billion dollars in 2022.

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- The China-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Free Trade Area (CAFTA) agreement has provided tremendous advantages to enterprises and peoples in both regions, a Cambodian official and experts said on Monday.

Cambodian Ministry of Commerce's Secretary of State Tat Puthsodary said the CAFTA has greatly boosted trade and investment volumes between the two sides.

"The potential benefits (from the CAFTA) are enormous," he said in a speech during a seminar on capacity building for implementing the rules of origin of the upgraded CAFTA.

The CAFTA came into effect on Jan. 1, 2010, leading to the liberalization and facilitation of trade among the 11 countries.

Currently, China and the 10-member ASEAN are actively pushing forward the version 3.0 CAFTA negotiations, which will provide new opportunities for trade and investment cooperation between both sides.

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People talk at the cultural tourism equipment exhibition area of the 2023 China-ASEAN Expo Tourism Exhibition in Guilin, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Oct. 13, 2023. (Xinhua/Lu Boan)

Official data shows the bilateral trade volume between China and ASEAN had increased from about 100 billion U.S. dollars in 2004 to 975.3 billion dollars in 2022.

For Cambodia, Puthsodary said within 13 years of CAFTA implementation, bilateral trade between Cambodia and China has increased more than 10 times from 1.25 billion dollars in 2010 to 11.69 billion dollars last year.

"Cambodia's export to China grew at 32 percent on an annual average, while import grew at 20.7 percent between 2010 and 2022," he said.

Kin Phea, director general of the International Relations Institute of Cambodia, a think tank under the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said China has been the ASEAN bloc's largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years, while ASEAN has been China's largest trading partner for three consecutive years.

"The CAFTA has provided great benefits to enterprises and peoples in all member countries," he told Xinhua. "This mega-trade pact has injected strong momentum into the building of a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future."

He added the CAFTA has defended multilateralism and a free trade system, laying a solid foundation for building a prosperous region for all.

"Closer China-ASEAN ties are essential to ensuring long-lasting peace, security, stability, sustainable development and common prosperity in the region," he said.

Joseph Matthews, senior professor at the BELTEI International University in Phnom Penh, said the CAFTA has boosted cooperation between China and ASEAN in the areas of trade in goods, investment, digital economy, green economy and supply chain connectivity.

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The opening ceremony of the 2023 China-ASEAN Expo Tourism Exhibition is held in Guilin, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Oct. 13, 2023. (Xinhua/Lu Boan)

"The CAFTA has become a driving force for sustainable and long-term trade and investment growth between China and ASEAN," he told Xinhua. "It has enhanced close economic and trade relations between both sides, and also promoted the economic development in Asia and in the world at large."

Matthews said the upgrade of version 3.0 CAFTA will further deepen the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and ASEAN, and bring greater prosperity for both economies and peoples.

"It will build an inclusive, modern, comprehensive and mutually beneficial agreement for the two sides," he said.

Editor: Yang Yifan