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China, ASEAN to upgrade their FTA

Updated: 2013-10-25 23:41
By Li Jiabao ( China Daily)

Both sides agree to open talks to boost commerce

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations soon will open talks on upgrading the China-ASEAN free trade agreement.

Both sides are pledging to enhance trade facilitation and investment cooperation, senior commerce officials said on Friday.

"China, together with ASEAN, will soon launch negotiations to upgrade the bilateral FTA to pragmatically enhance liberalization and the facilitation of trade and investment," China's Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng told reporters after an ASEAN economic ministers' roadshow in China.

Gao said that the talks are aimed at making the pact "a more comprehensive agreement with higher quality".

Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, deputy prime minister and minister of commerce of Thailand, added that "officials will begin to discuss further details during the China-ASEAN Joint Committee, to be held in Bangkok in early November".

The ASEAN delegation to the roadshow, which included more than 120 officials from the member countries and the secretariat, is visiting China this week, with stops in Chengdu, Shanghai and Beijing. The officials are promoting trade and investment opportunities to Chinese provincial executives and local businesses.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-ASEAN strategic partnership.

China has strengthened its ties with Southeast Asia, with President Xi Jinping paying state visits to Indonesia and Malaysia and attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit from Oct 2 to 8.

Meanwhile, Premier Li Keqiang paid official visits to Brunei, Thailand and Vietnam and attended the East Asia leaders' meetings from Oct 9 to 15.

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