Business / Economy

China to deepen ties with ASEAN by upgrading free trade agreement

By Fan Feifeiand Zhou Mo (China Daily) Updated: 2015-09-19 09:56

Tanasak Patimapragorn, deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Thailand, which is the country of honor for the 12th CAEXPO, said the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will benefit ASEAN and China, and the construction of high-speed rail systems across the region will serve as important links in the region's transport network.

He said Thailand will fully support China's financing plans, especially the Silk Road Fund, China-ASEAN maritime cooperation fund and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and looks forward to the effective use of these funds to meet the connectivity needs of the region.

Somsavat Lengsavad, deputy prime minister of Laos, indicated that up to now, the bilateral trade between China and Laos has reached $3.6 billion and the total investment of Chinese enterprises in Laos has amounted to $5.3 billion. China has become Laos' largest investor.

"It is noteworthy that China and Laos will join together to launch a satellite for Laos. And the leaders from the two countries have determined to build a railway which connects China and Laos and leads to other ASEAN countries."

Project for rail line to Thailand on track

Work on the much-awaited China-Thailand railway project is likely to start by the end of this year, officials from both sides said on Friday.

The project will not only link China and Thailand, but also play a key role in promoting the Belt and Road Initiative, said Tanasak Patimapragorn, deputy prime minister and special envoy of the prime minister of Thailand.

"Thailand and China are already working together in railway construction. We have held seven rounds of negotiations and hope to start work by December," he said during the roundtable dialogue between the two sides.

The dialogue is part of a series of activities at the 12th China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, which is being held concurrently with the 12th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, the capital of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Thailand is also stepping up efforts to develop a number of special economic zones, said a high-level official from the economic and social development department of Thailand, on condition of anonymity.

"The first group of SEZs will cover border areas between Thailand and its neighboring countries. An important economic center is expected to be created in those cross-border checkpoints. The Thailand government will invest a certain amount of money to build railways and other infrastructure for these SEZs," he said.

Officials from Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and trade departments, as well as executives from six Chinese companies attended the event.

Though the China-Thailand railway project was mooted nearly a decade ago, the project had been stagnated due to political problems in Thailand.

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