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China, ASEAN see more opportunities for trade cooperation despite pandemic

Updated: Apr 30,2020 10:23 AM

While deepening their cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic, China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which enjoy complementary trade and low logistical costs, have registered strong trade growth.

Data from the General Administration of Customs showed that total trade between China and the ASEAN stood at 991.3 billion yuan in the first quarter of 2020, a year-on-year increase of 6.1 percent.

The data suggests that the epidemic hasn’t had too much of an effect on the economic and trade exchanges between China and the ASEAN, said Tang Zhimin, director of China ASEAN Studies Center, Panyapiwat Institute of Management, adding that the types and scale of bilateral trade have constantly expanded, demonstrating closer relations between the two sides.

Trade in integrated circuits and energy has played a major role in bilateral exchanges, while imports and exports of integrated circuits pushed up overall trade growth by 3.3 percentage points, and trade in oil and coal stimulated trade growth by 1.7 percentage points.

In addition to traditional goods, internet-based cross-border e-commerce has become one of the highlights of bilateral trade. With the application of advanced technologies such as 5G and VR and the popularization of smart phones, e-commerce is developing rapidly in Southeast Asia, which will promote cross-border e-commerce trade along with bilateral cooperation in this field, reported the Bangkok Post, an English-language daily newspaper published in Bangkok, Thailand.

The upgraded protocol of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, which took effect in October 2019, has further unleashed the benefits of the free trade area and facilitated the trade of agricultural products between the two sides.

Meanwhile, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is expected to be signed within the year as planned, which will usher in more opportunities for China-ASEAN economic and trade cooperation.