China and ASEAN signed the Protocol on Enforcement of the Second Package of Specific Commitments under the Agreement of Trade in Services of ACFTA

Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming, while attending the APEC Ministerial Meeting inHawaii, met respectively with Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirijawan and Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce Kittirat Na Ranong on November 11. According to Chen Deming, economic and trade cooperation between China and ASEAN countries is increasingly expanding and becoming closer under the framework of China – ASEAN Free Trade Area (FTA), which accords with the common interests of the two sides, and has brought benefits to all our countries.

Chen said in meeting with Gita that China and Indonesia have witnessed a sound development of bilateral economic and trade relations, with much business cooperation carried out between the business circles of the two countries. China- ASEAN FTA has provided a new platform for economic and trade cooperation between our two sides, with more benefits and opportunities for enterprises of both sides. Chinese enterprises, especially those from the Southern area, are keen to invest in Indonesia, and China would like to discuss with the Indonesian side on creating areas similar to industrial parks so as to attract more Chinese enterprises and enterprises from other countries to make investment in Indonesia.

Gita expressed that China- ASEAN FTA has brought benefits for Indonesia, and Indonesia will commit to increasing bilateral trade from current US$ 34 billion to US$ 80 billion in three or four years in line with consensus reached between leaders of our two countries. He welcomed Chinese enterprises to invest in Indonesia, adding that it will be conducive to the realization of the trade goal. Indonesia and China are complimentary in economy, and Indonesia is willing to conduct comprehensive and long-term cooperation with China.

In his meeting with Kittirat, Chen first expressed his sympathy to Thailand in the flood disaster, he believes that the Thai government and people have capacity to cope with the disaster, and China will continue to offer assistance to Thailand on rescue and reconstruction efforts, and will strengthen bilateral cooperation in such areas as infrastructure construction. Chen said that China – ASEAN FTA is the largest free trade area in the world, and it is necessary to promote pragmatic cooperation among the members, and strengthen construction cooperation in roads, railways, ports, telecommunications and power, so as to benefit the enterprises and people in China and ASEAN countries. China encourages enterprises to invest in ASEAN countries, and would like to corporate with enterprises from Thailand and other ASEAN countries, which are beneficial to upgrade economic development of the two sides.

Kittirat expressed his gratitude to the Chinese government and people for their sincere help to Thailand in relief efforts of the flood disaster. He said that Thailand attaches great importance to China- ASEAN FTA which is conductive to the economic development of Thailand and ASEAN countries. Chinese enterprises are well-experienced in the construction of railways, highways and bridges, and Thailand welcomes Chinese enterprises to be involved in investment and construction in the projects.

The 14th ASEAN-China Summit was held on 18 November2011 in Bali, Indonesia. At the Summit, Minister Chen signed, on behalf of the Chinese government, the Protocol on Enforcement of the Second Package of Specific Commitments under the Agreement of Trade in Services of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (ACFTA). The Protocol shall enter into force on January 1, 2012, when each country completing internal legal procedures.

The Agreement on Trade in Services of ACFTA was signed in January of 2007. According to provisions of the Agreement, the parties shall start negotiation of second package of specific commitments, in July 2007 when the Agreement entered into force, to further decontrol trade in services of ACFTA. Compared with the first package, China made adjustment in such sectors as commercial services, telecommunication, construction, distribution, finance, tourism and transportation, based on China’s commitment to the WTO. Meanwhile, ASEAN member states have covered more sectors in the second package, more open than their WTO commitment, and offer by many of them are more preferential than that in WTO new round negotiation.

In recent years, with the rapid construction of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, China-ASEAN trade in services has been growing fast. The total value of bilateral trade in services has increased from US$17.9 billion in 2007 to US$26.8 billion in 2010. In the first half year of 2011, the total bilateral trade value reached US$17.4 billion, up by 34.9% year on year.

The signing of their Protocol is anther significant achievement after ACFTA by China and ASEAN, which will effectively enhance liberalization of ACFTA, further facilitate economic integration between China and ASEAN member states, and promote the mutually beneficial and win-win development of trade in services between the two sides.

Source: Ministry of Commerce Website; http://english.mofcom.gov.cn/aarticle/newsrelease/significantnews/201111/20111107830486.html; http://english.mofcom.gov.cn/aarticle/newsrelease/significantnews/201111/20111107850629.html

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