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Scope seen for deeper China-ASEAN ties

By LIU ZHIHUA (China Daily)

Updated: 2021-09-13

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Visitors at the 18th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on Friday. [Photo by WANG ZHUANGFEI/CHINA DAILY]

Cooperation can boost investment and safeguard supply chains, official says

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations should deepen their relations to strengthen production capacity and investment cooperation and jointly safeguard the stability of industry and supply chains, a senior Chinese official said on Friday.

By building a higher-level strategic partnership, China and ASEAN can inject more impetus into the sustainable and stable recovery of the regional economy, while also making greater contribution to the global economic recovery and growth, said Ning Jizhe, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic regulator.

Ning made the remarks at the China-ASEAN Production Capacity and Investment Cooperation Forum held online and offline on Friday in Nanning, the capital of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, in South China. The forum was held on the sidelines of the four-day 18th China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, which opened on Friday.

"China has completed the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (signed in November last year), and we hope all ASEAN member states will work together to bring the agreement into force as soon as possible, and then continue to advance the implementation of the agreement," said Ning, who is also head of China's National Bureau of Statistics.

China and ASEAN economies should work together to reduce barriers to trade, reduce cross-border investment risks, protect legitimate interests of enterprises, and smooth international logistics operations, he said.

He also said the two sides should jointly create a better business environment, promote the integration of regional industry chains, and safeguard regional supply chains, to attract trade and investment activities from countries outside the region, and strengthen the region's role in the world.

Thanks to the strengthening economic and trade ties, China has remained ASEAN's largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years, and ASEAN also became China's largest trading partner in 2020.

During the first eight months, bilateral trade between China and ASEAN surged nearly 23 percent year-on-year to 3.59 trillion yuan ($557.64 billion), accounting for 14.5 percent of China's total foreign trade, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

Ning said the two sides should strengthen high-quality, affordable, and sustainable infrastructure cooperation to enhance regional connectivity.

While advancing infrastructure interconnection, it is also necessary to strengthen technical standards exchanges and alignment, and pay attention to energy conservation and environmental protection, he said.

The Chinese and ASEAN business communities can also strengthen trade and investment cooperation on vaccines, and anti-COVID-19 products, medical devices and services, he said, adding governments of related countries are expected to facilitate such cooperation to jointly build a "Silk Road of Health" and a global community of health for all.

Against the impact of the pandemic, the digital economy is creating new supplies and stimulating new demand to form new growth potentials, and China is willing to enhance cooperation with ASEAN economies in areas like cross-border e-commerce, smart cities, cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence, as well as digitalization and upgrading of traditional industries and establishing rules for the digital market, Ning said.

At the same time, it is also important to enhance regulation, pay attention to the promotion of electronic authentication and electronic signature, and protect e-commerce users, personal information, and consumers, he said.