1. The Second Consultation between the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) and the Minister of Commerce (MOFCOM) of the People’s Republic of China was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 3 September 2003.
2. The Consultation was co-chaired by H.E. Cham Prasidh, Minister of Commerce of Cambodia, and H.E. Mr. Lu Fuyuan, Minister of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China.
3. The Ministers noted the significant developments in ASEAN-China economic relations since their first Consultation in Brunei Darussalam in September 2002. These included the signing of the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between ASEAN and China at the ASEAN-China Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in November 2002, which kicked-off the negotiations for an ASEAN-China Free Trade Area to be realized in 2010 for ASEAN 6 and China and 2015 for ASEAN’s newer Member Countries.
ASEAN-China Trade and Investment Relations
4. The ASEAN Economic Ministers congratulated China for a strong economic performance in 2002. They noted that China’s 8% growth last year exceeded expectations. They expressed optimism that notwithstanding the impact of SARS, which severely hit the region middle of this year, China would maintain its rapid development and that her economic performance for 2003 would continue to be robust. The ASEAN Ministers stressed that China’s rapid economic development would provide a significant boost to ASEAN-China trade and investment relations.
5. The Ministers noted that trade between China and ASEAN reached US$ 34.24 billion for the first half of 2003 and that China’s imports of US$ 20.47 billion from ASEAN represented an impressive 55.5% growth, making ASEAN the fourth largest supplier for China. Given that ASEAN-China trade was increasing at a rate of 45% for the first half of 2003, trade volume by the end of 2003 was expected to surpass the US$70 billion mark. The Ministers, encouraged by the rapid growth of trade and investment flows between ASEAN and China, reaffirmed their determination to advance economic cooperation especially in the area of trade and investment.
Early Harvest Programme
6. The Ministers noted that ASEAN Member Countries and China are completing their preparations for the implementation of the Early Harvest Programme by 1 January 2004 and this includes the exchange of tariff reduction schedules by parties for products covered by their Early Harvest Packages by the ASEAN-China Summit in October 2003. They underscored the importance of this exercise not only in promoting transparency and predictability but also in contributing to the smooth implementation of the Early Harvest Programme.
Progress in the Establishment of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA)
7. The Ministers expressed satisfaction over the report that negotiations for the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area have been progressing well, especially on the modalities for trade in goods, services and investment. They were also pleased to note the progress made in other areas of economic cooperation, specifically in the areas under the Early Harvest Programme and those areas identified by the Leaders in the Framework Agreement, i.e. agriculture; information and communication technology; human resource development; investment; and the Mekong River basin development. The Ministers expressed confidence that with the dynamism of the ASEAN-China Trade Negotiating Committee, the negotiations for the ACFTA will be completed well within the deadlines specified in the Framework Agreement.
LIST OF MINISTERS
The Meeting was attended by:
(i) H.E. Pehin Dato Abdul Rahman Taib, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam;
(ii) H.E. Mr. Cham Prasidh, Minister of Commerce, Cambodia;
(iii) H.E. Mr. Lu Fuyuan, Minister of Commerce (MOFCOM), People’s Republic of China;
(iv) H.E. Ms. Rini M. S. Soewandi, Minister for Industry and Trade, Indonesia;
(v) H.E. Mr. Soulivong Daravong, Minister of Commerce, Lao PDR;
(vi) H.E. Dato’ Seri Rafidah Aziz, Minister of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia;
(vii) H.E. U Khin Maung Win, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Myanmar;
(viii) H.E. Mr. MAR Roxas II, Secretary of Trade and Industry, the Philippines;
(ix) H.E. B.G. (NS) George Yeo, Minister for Trade and Industry, Singapore;
(x) H.E. Mr. Adisai Bodharamik, Minister of Commerce, Thailand;
(xi) H.E. Mr. Truong Dinh Tuyen, Minister of Trade, Viet Nam; and
(xii) H.E. Mr. Ong Keng Yong, Secretary-General of ASEAN.