Free trade goal by 2010 reaffirmed
NANNING: China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) are determined to establish a Free Trade Area (FTA) by 2010 as
scheduled, according to a joint statement issued Monday.
It was inked by China and ASEAN countries following a summit commemorating
the 15th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN dialogue.
When the FTA is established, the trading bloc will encompass a combined
population of nearly 2 billion people and a gross domestic product of more than
The FTA consists of trade in goods liberalization by 2010 for China and six
traditional ASEAN members Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia,
Indonesia and Thailand and by 2015 for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam,
according to the statement.
China and ASEAN pledged to work expeditiously towards agreements to
liberalize trade in services covering various sectors; and both sides plan to
promote investment by creating a liberal, facilitative, transparent and
competitive investment regime in China and ASEAN, it says.
The two sides have identified 10 priority areas for co-operation from 2005 to
2010, including agriculture, information industry, Mekong River Basin
development, transport, energy, culture, tourism and public health.
"We should press ahead with the construction of the Kunming-Singapore Railway
and the Asia highway network, launch energy co-operation and advance
co-operation in the 10 priority areas," said Premier Wen Jiabao at the summit.
He also called for China and ASEAN to expand military dialogue and exchanges,
conduct and institutionalize defence co-operation, continue to implement the
"Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea" and promote joint
development in the South China Sea.
China will provide US$2 million to ASEAN to support its integration and
community building, Wen said.
The Chinese Government will donate US$1 million to the ASEAN Development Fund
and provide funding assistance of US$1 million for the projects under the
Initiative for ASEAN Integration, which was launched in November 2000 to narrow
the divide within ASEAN and at enhancing ASEAN's competitiveness as a region.
China also offered to train 8,000 ASEAN professionals in the next five years
and invited 1,000 young people from these countries to visit the country, said
Wen at the Commemorative Summit Marking the 15th Anniversary of ASEAN-China
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who holds the rotating
presidency of ASEAN, said the summit is "a milestone" and "more important than
ever," because open dialogue and trust between peoples and nations have never
been more important than in today's world.