'Diamond decade' expected

Updated: 2013-09-06 09:28

By Ding Qingfen and He Wei in Nanning (China Daily)

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China keen to expand trade and investment with asean bloc

Trade and investment between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are expected to more than double by 2020, Premier Li Keqiang said on Tuesday.

These goals are part of what the premier calls a "diamond decade" of relations the two must strive to achieve.

Trade is expected to reach $1 trillion in 2020, compared with $400 billion last year, Li said at the 10th China-ASEAN Expo, which opened on Tuesday in Nanning, capital of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Two-way investment will amount to $150 billion from 2013 to 2020, Li said.By the end of June, China's outbound direct investment in ASEAN nations totaled nearly $30 billion, and direct investment from ASEAN nations flowing into China exceeded $80 billion.

Calling China and ASEAN "natural cooperative partners", Li said the two share common goals.

"The major task of China and ASEAN is to develop economies and improve the people's livelihood," he said.

This year also marks the 10th year that the two sides have an established strategic partnership, and trade in 2012 was five times that of 2003.

"Since China and ASEAN were able to build a golden decade of cooperation in the past 10 years, they will be capable of building the next 10 years into a diamond decade," Li said.

At the opening ceremony of the expo, China and ASEAN signed three economic agreements covering ports, technology transfer and an entrepreneur association.

Cooperation with China is of great importance to ASEAN given the volatility in emerging markets that erupted after the US Federal Reserve started to scale back its massive bond-buying program, says Huo Jianguo, president of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

According to Ty Channa, deputy director of the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, ASEAN is betting on strengthened ties to weather the global economic downturn.

"I am highly optimistic about the goal of achieving $1 trillion in bilateral trade, because our connection is stronger than ever after a 10-year strategic partnership. I think cooperation on the agricultural front will be essential to boost our economy," he says.

Panya Boonbandanrit, deputy secretary-general of the Thai Tapioca Trade Association, says China-ASEAN trade is "still set to enjoy steady growth, since bilateral trade practices have matured in the past decade".

Contact the writers at dingqingfen@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily European Weekly 09/06/2013 page3)