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ASEAN Has Historically Become China’s Largest Trading Partner

Post Time:2020-03-09 15:47:43

March 7th, 2020: Xu Ningning, Executive President of the China-ASEAN Business Council, said in an interview today that in the first two months of this year, China's trade with ASEAN registered 85.32 billion USD, maintaining an increase of 0.5% over the same period last year. ASEAN has historically become China's largest trading partner.

The China-ASEAN Business Council is one of the dialogue and cooperation mechanisms between China and ASEAN countries. Executive President Xu Ningning said that China ’s top three trading partners in the first two months of this year were ASEAN, the European Union, and the United States; China ’s trade with the European Union was 79.97 billion USD, a year-on0year decrease of 15.5%; China’s trade with the United States was 60.57 billion USD, a year-on-year decrease of 20.9%. China ’s trade with ASEAN was 5.35 billion USD more than the European Union, China ’s second largest trading partner, and 24.75 billion USD more than the United States, China’s third largest trading partner.

Xu Ningning introduced that from January to February this year, China ’s trade with ASEAN accounted for 14.4% of China ’s total foreign trade value. Compared with 12.8% in the same period last year, this year’s ratio has increased by 1.6 percentage points.

In the first two months of this year, in China-ASEAN trade, China's exports to ASEAN reached 44.33 billion USD, a year-on-year decrease of 5.1%; China's imports from ASEAN reached 40.99 billion USD, a year-on-year increase of 7.2%; China's surplus was 3.34 billion USD, a year-on-year decrease 62%.

In the first two months of this year, in terms of trade volume between China and 10 ASEAN countries, the top three are: Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore. China-Vietnam trade grew by 8.9% year-on-year, and China-Malaysia trade increased by 4.8% year-on-year, China-Singapore trade decreased by 5.3% year-on-year.

In the first two months of this year, in terms of China's import from ASEAN countries, the top three are: Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand; and in terms of China's export to ASEAN countries, the top three are: Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia.

The 10 ASEAN member states are: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Xu Ningning analyzed that in 2019, China-ASEAN trade volume reached 641.5 billion USD, an increase of 9.2%, which was faster than the average growth rate of China's foreign trade, and was the fastest growth rate among China's top three trading partners (EU, ASEAN, and the United States). Its proportion in China's foreign trade has risen, and the trade volume between China and ASEAN has exceeded the trade volume between China and the United States by 100 billion USD. ASEAN has historically become China's second largest trading partner, demonstrating the vitality of bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

China and ASEAN countries are close neighbors, and boast complementary economies and broad space and great potential for cooperation. Since the establishment of the dialogue partnership in 1991, especially since the strategic partnership in 2003, the two sides have continuously enriched their cooperation content, improved the level of cooperation year by year, and strengthened closeness of cooperation, which benefited each other in integration and development.

In the past 20 years, the implementation and upgrading of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, the construction of ASEAN economic integration, and the implementation of the "Belt and Road" initiative, the two sides have carried out a series of fruitful cooperation in areas such as connectivity, industry, and finance, which has promoted bilateral trade.

Xu Ningning said that the impeded trade and business shutdown caused by the COVID-19 epidemic directly restricted China-ASEAN trade and economic growth. On February 20, the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) issued a "Joint Statement", emphasizing the strengthening of international cooperation between the two sides to jointly respond to the epidemic. The "Joint Statement" states that the two sides are committed to reducing the impact of the epidemic on the economic and social development of various countries, and jointly safeguarding personnel exchanges and trade and investment activities in the region.

The relevant national-level industrial and commercial organizations of China and the ASEAN countries issued the Cooperation Initiative on Prevention and Control the Novel Coronavirus Virus (COVID-19) for China-ASEAN Business Community on February 20, which proposes that, the China-ASEAN business community should cooperate to fight against the COVID-19 and make a contribution in protecting the health and safety of the people in the region, and promoting economic and trade exchanges between the two sides, and economic growth in various countries. The “Initiative” states that, while doing their best to prevent and control the epidemic, both sides should try to avoid economic activities that sustain economic growth such as trade and investment being restricted.

Xu Ningning finally stated that the growth of trade between the two sides is directly related to the mutual demand in production and daily life, and to the growth of two-way investment of the companies, and the industrial division of labor of multinational companies in China and ASEAN countries. This is the inherent decisive factor for the growth of bilateral trade. It is believed that after the epidemic, China-ASEAN trade will achieve new and major developments.

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