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August 17, 2009

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China and ASEAN ink investment agreement

CHINA'S Commerce Minister Chen Deming and the economic ministers from 10 ASEAN member states signed the ASEAN-China Investment Agreement during the 41st ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting and related meetings in Bangkok.

The signing of the investment agreement, together with already-inked China-ASEAN agreements of trade in goods and services, completed the negotiation process of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, which is to be realized by January 1, 2010.

"The China-ASEAN FTA will be an advanced FTA that covers an area of 13 million square kilometers with 1.9 billion people," Chen said.

The investment agreement, which includes 27 clauses, aims to provide a free, transparent and judicial investment mechanism for investors from both sides, who can enjoy most-favored-nation treatment, citizen treatment, and fair and equitable treatment on reciprocal investment, said Zhang Kening, counselor at the International Department of China's Ministry of Commerce.

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations launched their cooperation dialogue in 1991 and signed the China-ASEAN Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation in 2002, proposing the ASEAN-China FTA by January 1, 2009.

The agreement would expand trade and investment between ASEAN and China as well as enhance economic ties with China, Thai Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai said in a news release.

Both sides will support foreign direct investment of their investors, promote and protect investments of parties to the agreement by giving non-discriminatory and fair treatment to investors, compensating investors in case of expropriation and providing for investor-state dispute settlement, Porntiva said.

Investment facilitation and protection will result in increase in production, exports, and trade volume of both sides, Porntiva said.

Porntiva said China is an important trade partner of ASEAN and is the bloc's fourth-largest export market.

Imports from China, the third-largest source of import for ASEAN, were valued at nearly US$107 billion, Porntiva said.

China is the eighth-largest investor in ASEAN with accumulated investments valued at US$6.1 billion last year, while the figure for ASEAN's investments in China was US$5.6 billion last year, she said.


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