KUALA LUMPUR, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will continue to see its ties with China strengthen with particular focus on economic matters, a Malaysian observer said.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area 3.0 Upgrade Negotiations see the two sides move in lockstep to secure and improve their economic cooperation to face an uncertain global outlook, according to Azmi Hassan, a senior research fellow at Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research.
China has proposed to accelerate ASEAN-China Free Trade Area 3.0 Upgrade Negotiations and strive to conclude negotiations in 2024, according to a list of China's cooperation initiatives for the ASEAN-related summits, which just concluded in Indonesia.
"I think ASEAN and China have been trading smoothly. A few years ago, when RCEP was finalized, and all 10 ASEAN plus five other countries made RCEP materialize, it is part of the healthy relationship between China and ASEAN in terms of economic matters," he told Xinhua in an interview.
In 2022, bilateral trade increased 11.2 percent year-on-year to 975.3 billion U.S. dollars, up significantly from 443.6 billion dollars a decade ago. By July this year, two-way investments topped 380 billion dollars, with an increasing number of Chinese-funded companies and jointly-developed innovation parks.
During the 26th China-ASEAN Summit on Wednesday, a joint statement was issued on mutually beneficial cooperation between The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. A series of outcome documents were also adopted in such fields as science and technology, agriculture and e-commerce.
Azmi also pointed to the 2023 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) as another successful cooperation where ASEAN nations are also participating, with China's openness drawing in ASEAN interest for its tourism, services, technology, innovation and digital economy. ■