China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, announced at an ASEAN summit in Jakarta that China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are engaged in talks for a third iteration of a free trade agreement.
Wang stated that both sides are actively promoting the negotiation of version 3.0 and pushing for the full implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
The RCEP, which came into effect on January 1, 2022, is supported by China and is the largest trade bloc globally.
It comprises 15 Asia-Pacific economies, including Australia, Japan, and all 10 ASEAN member-states.
The RCEP covers approximately one-third of the world’s population and is considered an alternative to the US-led Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Wang emphasized the importance of deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership with ASEAN, stating that it would create a more robust strategic environment for the region’s development, revitalization, and long-term peace and stability.
Both China and ASEAN are each other’s largest trading partners, with significant cooperation potential and a solid foundation for collaboration.
Wang’s remarks were supported by China’s customs spokesperson, Lv Daliang, who highlighted the continuous expansion of cooperation fields and smooth trade exchanges between the two sides.
Customs data revealed that the value of China-ASEAN two-way trade reached $447.3 billion in the first half of the year, marking a slight year-on-year decline of 1.5%.
The discussions at the ASEAN summit signify the ongoing efforts to strengthen economic ties between China and ASEAN.
The potential agreement between the two parties would further enhance their trade relationship and contribute to regional economic integration. By pursuing closer cooperation and deepening their comprehensive strategic partnership, China and ASEAN aim to foster mutual development and create a stable and prosperous environment in the region.