On January 31, Wang Shouwen, China International Trade Representative (full-ministerial rank) and Vice Minister of Commerce, delivered a speech at the opening ceremony of the fifth round of negotiations on version 3.0 of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Zone in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. Before the negotiation began, Wang held a small-group talk with heads of delegations from ASEAN countries and the ASEAN Secretariat.

Wang Shouwen said that in 2021, President Xi Jinping and ASEAN leaders announced the agreement to establish China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership and launch negotiations of version 3.0 of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Zone. In the past three years, China and ASEAN witnessed rising trade and investment despite the challenging external environment and remained each other’s largest trading partner, important sources and destinations of investment. The two countries have shown huge cooperation potential in emerging areas and can provide development opportunities for each other. At present, the two sides are making full efforts to advance the 3.0 negotiations to upgrade the FTA. It can unlock greater opportunities for bilateral cooperation, upgrade the quality and level of cooperation, and deliver more tangible benefits to countries, enterprises and people in the region.

Wang said that China is ready to work with all ASEAN parties to complete the negotiations as soon as possible, as the the leaders instructed. Building on the existing FTA and the RCEP, it’s important to promote the level of trade and investment liberalization, and expand practical cooperation in emerging areas such as intermediate goods trade, digital trade, cross-border e-commerce, standards, green and low-carbon development. The two sides must work together to bring the China-ASEAN FTA to a higher level to create broader space for regional development, and actively build a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future.

The fifth round of negotiations on version 3.0 of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area was held from January 29 to February 2, joinged by nearly 400 officials from the authorities of China, ten ASEAN countries and the ASEAN Secretariat.


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