China joins ASEAN countries’ chorus for free trade

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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday pledged to jointly promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), so as to inject positive energy into the world economy.

At the 32nd ASEAN Summit and related meetings held in Singapore in late April, leaders of ASEAN countries agreed to work towards an early conclusion this year of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement (FTA) scheme of the 10 ASEAN member states and its FTA partners, namely China, Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

In his speech, the Chinese premier also called for substantive breakthroughs made in the negotiations on the RCEP.

China and ASEAN countries are all beneficiaries of free trade, Li said, adding that it is in line with their common interest to safeguard multilateralism and the international trading system.

China is ready to work with ASEAN countries to promote the early completion of the RCEP, build the East Asian economic community and promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, so as to inject positive energy into the world economy, Li said.

He said the importance of cooperation between China and ASEAN has gone beyond the bilateral scope and has increasingly become the support and engine for maintaining regional peace and stability as well as promoting regional common prosperity.

China has always put ASEAN as a priority for its foreign policy with neighboring countries and stood for friendly cooperation with ASEAN, said the premier.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up, and the ASEAN also ushered in its second 50-year period, said Li.

Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed new initiatives for furthering opening-up at this year’s Boao Forum for Asia annual conference.

Li said China’s development would bring new and greater opportunities to all countries in the world including ASEAN.

China is ready to work with ASEAN to build a closer community with shared destiny and jointly write a new chapter in their cooperation, said the premier.
ASEAN is willing to work with China to strengthen economic and trade cooperation, especially in such areas of innovation and digital economy, so as to achieve common prosperity and mutual benefit, said Secretary-General of ASEAN Lim Jock Hoi.

Source: ecns

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