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China encourages enterprises to set up cooperation zones in ASEAN states: official
The Chinese government encourages Chinese businesses to set up economic and trade cooperation zones in member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to deepen cooperation, a senior commerce official said Wednesday.

Vice Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng, speaking at a preparatory meeting for the seventh China-ASEAN Expo, said China and ASEAN members have strengthened economic and trade cooperation since the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) came into effect on Jan. 1 this year.

Customs data showed that bilateral trade totalled 39.12 billion U.S. dollars in the first two months of 2009, up 66 percent from a year ago.

Chinese exports to ASEAN states rose 52.9 percent to 18.69 billion U.S. dollars while imports from ASEAN jumped 80.2 percent to 20.43 billion U.S. dollars.

Gao called upon "eligible" Chinese enterprises to "go overseas" to ASEAN countries to set up economic and trade zones with infrastructure and industrial chains.

He also said the two sides should implement the agreement on trade and expand trade, calling for an increase in the trade of high value-added products, including mechanical and electrical products and other hi-tech products.

The two sides' enterprises should further expand cooperation and deepening ties in the agricultural, manufacturing, infrastructure, resources, and processing sectors, he said.

The CAFTA, covering a population of about 1.9 billion, is the world's third largest trade agreement in terms of trade volume, after the European Union and the North American Free Trade Area.

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

Under the CAFTA, the average tariff on goods from ASEAN countries entering China has been cut to 0.1 percent from 9.8 percent, while the six original ASEAN members - Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand - slashed the average tariff on Chinese goods entering ASEAN states from 12.8 percent to 0.6 percent.

The seventh China-ASEAN Expo will be held in Nanning, capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, from Oct. 20 to 24 this year.
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