|Graphics shows locations of China and Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). |
The China-ASEAN free trade area is home to a population of 1.9 billion people, has a combined gross domestic product of around 6 trillion US dollars, and boosts a total trade volume of 4.5 trillion dollars.
At the third China-ASEAN Summit in Manila in 1999, then Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji reiterated China's readiness to enhance ties with the ASEAN free trade zone. His proposal got a positive response from leaders of ASEAN countries.
In November 2002, at the sixth China-ASEAN summit, leaders from both sides signed the landmark Framework Agreement on China-ASEAN Comprehensive Economic Cooperation. The agreement kick started the process of establishing a free trade zone, setting 2010 as the target date.
In November 2004, China and ASEAN signed a free goods trade agreement, stating that from July 2005, both sides would gradually reduce tariffs on about 7 thousand products.
On August 15th, 2009, China and ASEAN member states signed an investment treaty at the eighth trade ministers' meeting, which opened up investment markets. The agreement signaled the final wrap-up of major negotiations.
On January 1st of this year, the free trade area came into effect. Trade between China and six ASEAN countries including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Phillipines, Thailand and Singapore has become duty-free for more than 7 thousand products.
In the free trade area, the average tariff on goods from ASEAN countries to China has been cut to 0.1 percent from 9.8 percent. The six original ASEAN members will slash the average tariff on Chinese goods from 12.8 percent to 0.6 percent. By 2015, the newer ASEAN countries, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar will join the zero-tax initiative.