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China, ASEAN see free trade by 2010(27/10/04)


    China and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) had agreed to completely remove tariffs on merchandise goods by 2010, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced Tuesday.

    China and ASEAN delegates at a meeting in Beijing had agreed to eliminate the tariffs as the most important part of a proposed free-trade agreement, ministry spokesman Chong Quan said.

    The agreement would be signed at a China-ASEAN leaders' summit scheduled next month, Chong said.

    Both sides would start implementing the tariff reduction program from 2005 and completely eliminate the tariffs by 2010, Chong said.

    Last month, China and ASEAN made a breakthrough in free-trade negotiation when ASEAN agreed to grant China market economy status.

    Developing trade and investment relations with ASEAN was one of China's economic priorities, which would not only benefit the two sides but also have a positive effect on the global economy, Chong said.

    Since 1990, the annual trade volume between China and ASEAN has been increasing at an average growth rate of more than 20 percent. Last year, the volume hit a record high of US$78.2 billion, and ASEAN has remained China's fifth-largest trade partner in the past 11 years.

    In the first three quarters of this year, the trade volume has already reached US$75.4 billion, a year-on-year increase of 35.6 percent. The volume for the whole year was expected to exceed the previously set goal of US$100 billion, the ministry said.

    ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Malaysia and Thailand.


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