ASEAN-China FTA key to grouping's growth in future, say leaders

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Huan Hin (Thailand), Oct. 24 (ANI): ASEAN leaders on Saturday agreed that only effective implementation of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) pact, which comes into effect from January 1, 2010, would ensure a free flow of goods in the region that the grouping represents.

After the launching of the ACFTA, 90 percent of the products traded between ASEAN and China will enjoy zero tariffs and other favourable policies will also be in place for trade and investment, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The ACFTA will be the biggest free trade zone in the world, forming a market with a population of 1.9 billion and a combined GDP of six trillion U.S. dollars.

ASEAN Secretary General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan told Xinhua that the ASEAN-China FTA will pave the way for more efforts to build the community in ASEAN.

He said that with China emerging as the world's third largest economy, its production bases in other ASEAN member countries would help the grouping to ascend to a position of strength in the world community in terms of negotiating prowess.

"We hope that as China grows, China will continue opening its market to ASEAN countries. ASEAN will continue to be stability and security for the region," Pitsuwan said.

Economic growth, trade and investment, however, would depend on security and stability, and the confidence that people have in the region, he added.

"There are ways to help each other, accommodate each other. In every economy relationship, there is no one-way benefit. There is no one interest to be taken care of. There have to be through many ways. It is the really way of mutual benefit," Pitsuwan told the agency.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. (ANI)

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