PH, neighbors bump off Japan as China’s 3rd biggest trading partner

BEIJING (MindaNews/11 August) – The Philippines, along with four other member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), have edged out Japan in becoming the third largest trading partner of China.

Gao Hucheng, Vice Minister of Commerce, said they expect a steady growth in the latter half of 2011, after growing by a quarter in the first half.

Trade output between China and Asean nations has reached $171.12 billion in the first six months of this year. The latest trade figure is 25.4 % higher compared to the same period last year, according to data released by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).

Gao said they are confident that the bilateral trade value will further reach $500 billion by the end of 2015.

He said they are encouraging China-based companies to invest in Asean nations, particularly in the areas of textiles, iron and steel, ship making, chemical and auto industries.

China does not seek a trade surplus with the Asean countries and welcomes more imports, he said.

MOC data revealed that the trade surplus of Asean, which exceeded $10 billion in the first six months, has been maintained in China since the creation of the trade pact in 2001.

Aside from the Philippines, China’s other top Asean trading partners are Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, China’s Deputy Secretary-General of China-ASEAN Business Council Xu Ningning earlier said.

The Asean member states have collectively surpassed Japan to become China’s third largest trading partner, China agencies said.

The China-Asean Free Trade Area has greatly promoted bilateral economic, trade and investment cooperation in recent years.

Xu said the trade agreement has gone “full swing” since last year with the implementation of the zero-tariff policy.

China and the Asean forged the trade agreement in 2001 which mainly aims to promote a free market and dismantle trade barriers.

Data showed that since the trade pact was signed, China’s trade with Asean countries has been increasing “rapidly”.

In addition, the number of newly established enterprises funded by ten Asian countries, which include the Philippines, have reached 10,850, up by 9.83% year on year, and the actual input $52.53-billion, up by 23.88% year on year, surpassing the US and EU, in the first half of the year, according to the foreign investment bulletin of the MOC.

There is no available trade data between the Philippines and China for this year, but in 2010 it recorded a substantial improvement with trade figures soaring to $27.7 billion, Chinese Ambassador to Manila Liu Jianchao said.

Liu said Chinese exports to the Philippines for 2010 hit $11.5 billion, an increase of 34.3 percent from 2009 while total imports from China reached $16.2 billion, a 35.6-percent growth from 2009. On the Philippine side, export to, and imports from, China both breached the $1-billion mark last year.

It said China’s investments in the country peaked at $86 million, up by 112 percent compared to 2009 while total Philippine investments in China amounted to $116 million in 2010. (Darwin Wally T. Wee/MindaNews)