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China-ASEAN trade growing on deeper integration

Source:   Time:

BEIJING, July 29 (Xinhua) -- Trade and investment between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have grown as mutual political trust has fostered deeper integration, a vice commerce minister said Wednesday.

Trade between China and the ASEAN rose 1.6 percent year on year to reach 224 billion U.S. dollars in the first six months of the year, accounting for 12 percent of China's total foreign trade, Vice Commerce Minister Gao Yan said.

Gao made the remarks at a press briefing of the 12th China-ASEAN Expo which will be held in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region between Sept. 18 and 21.

Trade between China and the ASEAN reached 480 billion U.S. dollars last year, up 8.23 percent.

China has been the largest trading partner of the ASEAN since 2009, and the ASEAN has been China's third largest since 2010.

The China-ASEAN Expo played an important role, Gao said.

Progress has been made in negotiations on upgrading the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) since August, Gao said, adding that a deal is expected by the end of this year.

Launched in 2010, the CAFTA has become the world's largest free trade area among developing economies, covering a total population of 1.9 billion. In 2013, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang proposed a CAFTA upgrade, with the aim of expanding trade to 1 trillion U.S. dollars by 2020.

Talks on a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have been fruitful. "Remarkable progress" has been made in seven areas including goods and services trading, investment and IPR policies, Gao said.

The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between the ASEAN members and Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.

Those countries account for 48 percent of the world's population and 30 percent of the world's economic output.

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