Rising intra-Asian trade will propel the ASEAN bloc of Southeast Asia nations to become China’s largest trading partner by 2015, one think-tank says.
The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade said the 2010 ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement removed trade barriers, and that the value of imports and exports between China and ASEAN states could surpass $500 billion within three years.
As China moves away from its dependency on export markets and encourages more trade with countries with which it has signed FTAs, the value of goods moving between the ASEAN bloc and China is forecast to increase at a faster rate than imports and exports between China and its more established trade partners.
"Thanks to zero tariffs, preferential trade policies and geographic advantages, both the increasing speed and scale of that trade will be in the forefront globally and ASEAN will become China's No. 1 trading partner by 2015," said Zhang Wei, vice chairman of the trade organization.
First quarter 2012 trade between China and the ASEAN nations — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — increased 9.2 percent year-over-year. That compared with a 2.6 percent gain in trade between China and the U.S. and a 1.6 percent decline in trade between China and the EU.
That followed the 24 percent increase in trade between ASEAN and China last year when the ASEAN bloc surpassed Japan to become China’s third-largest trade partner after the EU and the U.S.
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