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China-ASEAN FTA to be completed in 2010, ASEAN envoy

China-ASEAN FTA to be completed in 2010, ASEAN envoy(2009/01/16)

BEIJING — The China-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Free Trade Area (FTA) will be completed in 2010 as scheduled, said China’s ASEAN envoy here on Thursday.

“The China-ASEAN FTA means to establish a huge market covering 1.9 billion people,” said Xue Hanqin, the first Chinese ambassador to ASEAN.

The China-ASEAN FTA is the first free trade area agreement signed by China.

In November 2004, the two sides concluded the FTA agreement on trade. In January 2007, the FTA agreement on trade in services was signed. The two sides vowed to complete the China-ASEAN FTA before 2010.

China and ASEAN have defined 11 major fields as directions for future cooperation, including agriculture, information and telecommunications, transport, tourism, Mekong River exploitation, energy, culture, human resources, and environment, said the non-resident ambassador.

“As the ambassador to ASEAN, I will push forward the implementation of these cooperative projects according to the consensus reached by leaders of both sides,” she said.

“We have signed and put into effect the agreements on trade in goods and services, and the negotiation on investment agreement was also finished,” said Xue. “I believe that both sides will seriously carry out the investment cooperation.”

Trade volume between China and ASEAN increased from US$105.9 billion in 2004 to US$202.5 billion in 2007, attaining the target of US$200 billion set by leaders of the two sides three years ahead of schedule.

In the first 10 months of 2008, trade volume between China and ASEAN reached US$199.1 billion, up 21.6 percent, official figures show.

(The news comes from the CABVgoverment website: http://www.cafta.org.cn)