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Within the review of its activities over the past year, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) has looked at its cooperation policies to promote foreign trade growth with emerging markets in Africa and Asia.
In particular, Chinese companies are being urged to increase their imports at reduced tariffs from countries within China’s existing free trade agreements (FTAs), such as from members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), while the government has recognized that it needs to implement a policy of eliminating import duties on goods from least developed countries, particularly from Africa.
Amidst the weak recovery of the world economy and the continuing euro area crisis in 2012, MOFCOM said that China, adhering to the principles of "equity and mutual benefit," devoted time to strengthening economic and trade relations with African countries.
From January to October 2012, China-Africa trade value, at USD163.9bn, maintained a growth rate of 20%, 14% higher than the overall growth rate in China’s total foreign trade. It is expected that the full-year figures will set another record high.
To further improve the structure of trade between China and Africa by expanding imports from African countries, from January last year the most underdeveloped 30 African countries, which have established diplomatic relations with China, began to enjoy zero import duties for 60% of their export commodities to China.
Last year represented the tenth anniversary since the execution of the framework agreement on comprehensive economic cooperation between China and ASEAN, and the second year of operation for the agreement establishing the China-ASEAN FTA. Their increased cooperation was underlined in November 2012 by the signing of a third protocol to the framework agreement, improving technical trade barriers.
MOFCOM reported that, from January to November 2012, total Chinese imports and exports from and to ASEAN amounted to almost USD360bn, an increase of 9.3% year-on-year. Currently, ASEAN is the third largest overall trade partner, the fourth largest export market and the second largest import source for China.
However, it is noticeable that Chinese exports to ASEAN countries were USD183.1bn, an annual increase of 19.3%, while Chinese imports from ASEAN were USD176.8bn, a rise of only 0.6%. That has made the push for more effective use by ASEAN exporters and Chinese importers of the reduced tariffs available within the China-ASEAN FTA all the more pressing and urgent.
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