BEIJING, Sept. 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Themed “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth,” the 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit concluded on Friday in Jakarta, Indonesia, with a series of positive outcomes.
Deepening ASEAN-China cooperation would benefit people on both sides, said Secretary-General of ASEAN Kao Kim Hourn on Thursday.
Regional economic integration
Addressing the 26th China-ASEAN Summit on Wednesday, Chinese Premier Li Qiang urged China and the ASEAN countries to enhance connectivity, deepen cooperation on industrial and supply chains, strive to complete in 2024 the negotiations on the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) 3.0 and steadily advance regional economic integration.
During the 26th ASEAN Plus Three Summit, Li noted that in June this year, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) entered into full effect, which brought new opportunities for regional economic integration.
“We need to further bring out the potential of the agreement, boost the free flow of factors, and expand and upgrade our trade and investment. We need to advance our comprehensive, mutually beneficial and high-quality economic partnership, and move toward an integrated regional market that is more open and vibrant,” he said.
China has proposed to accelerate ASEAN-China Free Trade Area 3.0 Upgrade Negotiations and strives to conclude negotiations in 2024, according to a list of China’s cooperation initiatives for the ASEAN-related summits.
The Version-3.0 China-ASEAN FTA will bring tangible benefits to local residents, said Shi Zhongjun, secretary-general of the ASEAN-China Center, adding that the unilateralist, protectionist policies pursued by some countries outside the region have had certain impact on cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, including that between China and ASEAN.
Belt and Road cooperation
During the 26th China-ASEAN Summit, a joint statement was issued on mutually beneficial cooperation between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.
China welcomes the active participation of ASEAN countries in the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, Li said on Wednesday.
Under the BRI cooperation framework, China and ASEAN have enhanced cooperation on infrastructure and regional cooperation.
The China–Laos railway had made a total of 20.09 million passenger trips as of April 16, with the section of the railway within China handling 17.09 million passenger trips and that outside China handling three million passenger trips since it went into operation in December 2021, according to data from China Railway.
The Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone, a BRI flagship project in Cambodia, has become the Southeast Asian country’s largest industrial zone, accommodating up to 175 factories so far.
Fruitful cooperation results
During the China-ASEAN Summit, a series of outcome documents were adopted, including a joint statement on deepening agricultural cooperation between China and ASEAN, an action plan on China-ASEAN green agricultural development (2023-2027), an initiative on enhancing bilateral e-commerce cooperation and an initiative on jointly implementing a China-ASEAN science and technology innovation enhancement program.
Data from China’s Ministry of Commerce showed that the trade volume between China and ASEAN reached $975.3 billion in 2022, up 11.2 percent year on year and surging by 120 percent from the level of 2013.
As of the end of July, the cumulative two-way investment exceeded $380 billion, and China had set up more than 6,500 enterprises with direct investment in ASEAN.
The past decade also saw ASEAN become China’s top trading partner in 2020, surpassing the European Union and the U.S.
“Looking ahead, I think ASEAN-China bilateral trade will increase three fold in the next 20 years, and the investment will increase accordingly,” said Djauhari Oratmangun, Indonesian ambassador to China.