Re­port urges us­ing APEC meet­ing to en­hance trade deal

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By PU ZHENDONG in Ningbo puzhen­dong@chi­

China and South­east Asian coun­tries can use this year’s APEC meet­ing to pro­mote an up­grade of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agree­ment, which would fur­ther strengthen con­nec­tiv­ity and re­duce costs, of­fi­cials and a re­search re­port said.

The CAFTA can fol­low the ex­am­ple of the Euro­pean Union to en­hance trust, co­or­di­nate pol­i­cy­mak­ing, and ac­cel­er­ate the free flow of per­son­nel, goods, cap­i­tal and in­for­ma­tion to be­come the en­gine for re­gional eco­nomic growth, ac­cord­ing to a re­port is­sued in midFe­bru­ary by the China In­sti­tute for Re­form and De­vel­op­ment, a Chi­nese think tank based in Haikou, Hainan prov­ince.

It may take three years to make a break­through, and around five years to form a new pat­tern of the 10+1 eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion, as the cur­rent FTA has laid a good foun­da­tion for the up­grade, the re­port said.

“China should es­tab­lish a mech­a­nism on the na­tional level to spear­head the up­grade and draft plans to dis­cuss this with ASEAN coun­tries dur­ing this year’s APEC meet­ing in Bei­jing,” it said.

The Chi­nese cap­i­tal will host the APEC Eco­nomic Lead­ers’ Meet­ing in Novem­ber.

A se­nior Malaysian politi­cian lauded the idea on Thurs­day at the APEC 2014 First Se­nior Of­fi­cials’ Meet­ing in Ningbo, Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

“Malaysia sees this as build­ing blocks. You move from one stage to an­other,” said N. Va­sude­van, se­nior di­rec­tor for APEC with Malaysia’s Min­istry of In­ter­na­tional Trade and In­dus­try.

“Re­gional eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion is a ris­ing trend on the agenda of this year’s APEC. We are work­ing to­ward the di­rec­tion of trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion with China, which is a very im­por­tant mem­ber of APEC and trad­ing part­ner in this re­gion.”

Va­sude­van said that China, as host of this year’s APEC meet­ing as well as be­ing a de­vel­op­ing econ­omy, can voice con­cerns and safe­guard in­ter­ests for other de­vel­op­ing coun­tries in the Asia-Pa­cific.

“The ul­ti­mate aim of APEC is to achieve re­gional eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion. Malaysia would like APEC to ad­vance the Agree­ment of Trade Fa­cil­i­ta­tion, a com­po­nent of the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion Bali Pack­age,” he said.

Va­sude­van was also sat­is­fied with the cur­rent Sino-Malaysian eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion within the ASEAN frame­work, call­ing it a model part­ner­ship.

China is now Malaysia’s largest trad­ing part­ner, and Malaysia is China’s big­gest trad­ing part­ner among the 10 ASEAN coun­tries. China-Malaysia trade reached $86 bil­lion in the first 10 months of 2013, nearly a quar­ter of the to­tal trade be­tween China and ASEAN.

In Oc­to­ber, dur­ing Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s visit to Malaysia, the two coun­tries signed a five-year pro­gram for eco­nomic and trade co­op­er­a­tion to ex­pand an­nual bi­lat­eral trade to $160 bil­lion by 2017.

Con­ve­nient mar­ket ac­cess and a shared cul­tural her­itage are the big­gest ad­van­tages for Chi­nese en­ter­prises to in­vest in Malaysia, said Bong Hon Liong, pres­i­dent of the Malaysia-China Cham­ber of Com­merce.

“Al­most one-third of the Malaysian pop­u­la­tion speaks Chi­nese and cel­e­brates Chi­nese tra­di­tions. More­over, the de­vel­op­ment con­di­tion of the coun­try is easy for small and medium-sized en­ter­prises in China to adapt to,” Bong said.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion, es­tab­lished in 1990 by Bong and other Malaysians, aims to strengthen ties be­tween govern­ment agencies and busi­ness groups of the two coun­tries.

“Malaysia and other ASEAN states, deeply af­fected by global re­ces­sion, now pay close at­ten­tion to China’s de­vel­op­ment,” Bong said. “Through com­mu­ni­ca­tion, we im­proved un­der­stand­ing and in­jected a new im­pe­tus into our busi­ness com­mu­nity about co­op­er­a­tion with China.”

The two coun­tries cel­e­brate their 40th an­niver­sary of for­mal ties this year. The two coun­tries have suc­ces­sively launched sis­ter in­dus­trial parks in Qinzhou, the Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion; and Kuan­tan, a Malaysian coastal city on the South China Sea.


The APEC Se­nior Of­fi­cials’ Meet­ing be­gins in Ningbo on Thurs­day, and will con­clude on Fri­day.

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