ASEAN-China FTA talks in Hangzhou have made progress

ASEAN and China are reported to have made significant progress in the 5th round of negotiations to upgrade the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) held between January 29.Th and February 2 n Hangzhou in China's Zhejiang Province.

Thailand's Department of International Trade Negotiations Deputy Director-General and Chairman of the ASEAN Group, Ratsawit Pyapramot, said both sides were trying to make as much progress as possible in the talks. Negotiations are expected to conclude this year, as requested by the economic ministers of both parties.

He said the two sides were able to reach conclusions on small and medium enterprises, trade competition, consumer protection, technical regulations, commodity standardization and inspection and certification processes.

He expects all other aspects such as digital economy goods trade, investment, customs regulations, green economy and trade facilitation to be finalized in the next round of talks in Singapore in April.

Since the Hangzhou talks are the first of the year, Ratchavid said the two sides should set guidelines and concrete goals for subsequent rounds of negotiations so that they can conclude an agreement this year.

China is ASEAN's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade estimated at US$104.9 billion last year. Thailand's exports to China alone are worth about US$34.1 billion, against imports of Chinese goods worth US$70.8 billion.

Thailand's exports to China include fresh fruits, rubber products, plastic pellets, cassava products, computers, parts and accessories. Major Chinese imports include electrical machinery and parts, chemicals, machinery and parts, household electrical appliances, steel, computers and computer parts.

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