ASEAN, China seek to boost trade through FTA


BANGKOK, Aug 11  – Foreign ministers of the 10 member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China have agreed to boost bilateral trade values through the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area and to speed up establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to help promote connectivity within the South East Asian region.

Thai acting Foreign Minister Sihasak Phuangktkeow and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi confirmed the agreements at a joint press conference after the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting in the Myanmar capital of Nay Pyi Taw on Saturday.

Mr Sihasak, also Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, said ASEAN agreed to China’s proposal to establish an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to finance infrastructure development with China subsidizing the institution’s registered capital of US$100 billion.

China also agreed to support development of the Mekong region and will arrange a Lanchang-Mekong discussion, Mr Sihasak said, noting that this will be the first time China is taking part in the development of the region.

The acting Thai foreign minister said the meeting also discussed situations in the South China Sea and agreed to speed up conclusion of a Code of Conduct to curb maritime disputes in the area.

He said both sides called for more frequent meetings and measures to prevent frictions in the sea between China and four ASEAN member countries–Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia.