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China will establish free trade zone ASEAN: 2010

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have seen fast growth in bilateral trade with the volume being expected to reach 190 billion U.S. dollars this year.

"The figure is expected to top 200 billion U.S. dollars in 2008, two years earlier than our expectation," said Zhang Xiaoqin, secretary general of China-ASEAN Expo Secretariat.

China and ASEAN are now each other's fourth largest trading partners. Zhang said, the China-ASEAN trade volume was 160.8 billion U.S. dollars last year, while in the first eight months this year, the bilateral trade hit 127.95 billion U.S. dollars.

Meanwhile, China and the 10 ASEAN members are speeding up the tariff reduction to facilitate the establishment of China-ASEAN free trade zone.

China's average tariff on ASEAN countries' goods was slashed from 9.9 percent to 5.8 percent now and will continue to drop to 2.4 percent in 2009, and finally in 2010, which is the scheduled time for the establishment of the free trade zone, 93 percent of products from ASEAN countries will be tariff-free.

By 2010, China will establish free trade zone with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, while Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar can enjoy five more years of transition.

Besides pushing the development of good trade, China and ASEAN countries have also speed up cooperation and investment on service trade since the two sides signed the negotiation on service trade in January this year.

"China and ASEAN have entered a new stage in terms of economic cooperation and trade ties," said Zhang.

To boost bilateral economic and trade cooperation, China and ASEAN countries have held the annual China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) in Nanning, capital of the southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region since 2004. The fourth CAEXPO is planned to open on Oct. 28 this year.

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