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Better connected industries for the China-ASEAN free trade zone

Source:   Time:

Kunming offices of the China-ASEAN Business Council's China Secretariat and seven chambers of commerce of ASEAN countries open on July 3. [China Daily]

Participants at a recent Asian industrial cooperation meeting in Kunming, Yunnan province, decided that increased cooperation between Chinese companies and those of Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) member countries is the future.

The delegates at the 2nd China-ASEAN Industry Cooperation Conference discussed ways to strengthen cooperation between their enterprises and came to an agreement in a number of areas.

Sponsors of the conference are the Chinese Secretariat of the China-ASEAN Business Council and the city of Kunming. More than 200 business leaders, government officials and industry experts took part.

First of all, they agreed to develop better China-ASEAN industrial dialog methods and said that better connected industries were the top priority of the China-ASEAN free trade zone.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialog and is "Year of Friendly Exchanges between China and ASEAN".

Trade between the two is growing as are investment service trade cooperation.

The participants said that China-ASEAN industrial cooperation is vital to economic cooperation and to continuing the China-ASEAN strategic partnership.

They did say, however, that this is a long-term project and one that calls for the active participation of governments, business councils, and enterprises. It also needs detailed planning, and an innovative approach to the planning.

They said that the purpose of industrial cooperation was to improve productivity and competitiveness in the region for joint development and prosperity.

The delegates called for more active participation in promoting industrial cooperation and said that various governments needed to place more importance on that cooperation.

Time to take action

They stressed the need to make cooperation a major focus of the free trade area's 2nd five-year plan (2011-2015) and for China and ASEAN members' bilateral economic cooperation plans.

This can be done with favorable policies, they said, such as giving priority to approval methods and raising funds.

The delegates said industry associations need to play a greater role in exploring new methods of cooperation.

A good starting place for this is the Joint Conference of China-ASEAN Business Council and the China-ASEAN Industry Cooperation Conference, they pointed out. This could be followed by the forming of industry business councils, and associations for specific sectors.

Industry associations from both regions should in turn support cooperative efforts by small and medium-sized enterprises.

The participants said that both of the regions' companies need to be active in China-ASEAN efforts and take advantage of whatever business opportunities and challenges they see.

The China-ASEAN Free Trade Area in fact is facing an immense market of 1.9 billion people so that companies need to be more active in their international marketing and investment.

They need a good understanding of economic policies and industry plans of all the countries involved, and of the particular market features of those countries.

And finally, they need a forward-looking business strategy for long-term development, with emphasis on product and service quality and brand promotion.

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