JAKARTA: Member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) announced on Saturday they recognize China's full market economy status.
The announcement was made shortly after the third consultation between the ASEAN Economic Ministers and China's Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai.
"Each of the 10 member countries of ASEAN recognizes the full market economy status of China," Indonesian Industry and Trade Minister Rini Soewandi, who co-chaired the meeting with Bo, told a press conference.
Bo told ASEAN ministers at the press conference: "On behalf of my government I would like to express my appreciation to all of you for the recognition of China's full market economy status."
Three ASEAN countries - Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand - individually announced their recognition earlier this year.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Viet Nam.
Bo said China will make more efforts to increase its trade volume with ASEAN, one of China's most important trading partners to date and together have promising economic co-operation in the future.
"For the time being, the two-way trade volume between ASEAN nations and China accounts for 11 per cent of China's overall external trade. But I believe this proportion will greatly increase in the upcoming years and probably double," Bo said.
He noted that last year, trade between China and ASEAN grew 40 per cent compared with the previous year and similarly, in the first half of this year, China and ASEAN have registered another year-on-year increase of 40 per cent.
"So I'm quite confident that after we accomplished agreements in terms of both trade in goods and trade in services, this growth rate will be even greater," Bo told a press conference shortly after a meeting with the economic ministers of ASEAN.
He said after the meeting, China "will definitely not slow down the works and negotiations with ASEAN and we will make even greater efforts to push ahead our bilateral talks over trade and services and bilateral investment issues to push ahead the overall trade relationship."
A statement issued by both sides shows that ASEAN's exports to and imports from China reached US$47.3 billion and US$30.9 billion in 2003, respectively. These represent an increase of 51.7 per cent and 31.2 per cent, respectively from the previous year.
In the first seven months of this year, ASEAN's exports to and imports from China have reached US$34.5 billion and US$22.2 billion, respectively, increases of 40.7 per cent and 34.1 per cent from the same period of 2003.