Mercury with an Asian face

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On the eve of the entry into force of the agreement on AFTA - November 6, 2001 - Leaders of the South-East Asia have agreed to work together with China to develop the largest free trade area, which over the next decade to reach nearly 2 billion consumers.

Thus, in the initial draft of important amendment was made - instead of experiencing a recession in Japan engine of the regional economy is now considered the PRC. Six months ago, Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji was supported plans to build a free trade zone at the annual meeting of ASEAN in Brunei. Implementation of these plans means the union of market power of the producers of $ 2 trillion. GDP per year and have a combined sales turnover of $ 1.23 trillion. In the first three quarters of 2001, bilateral trade between China and ASEAN reached $ 30.3 billion, in annual terms by 6.8% more than in 2000.

According to the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, who chaired the meeting, the purpose of the community is forming the world's largest free trade area, in which now resides 1.7 billion people, and by the time of its launch the population will reach 2 billion over ten years to be canceled nearly all duties. ASEAN and China agreement leading to the formation of the world's largest free market by population and third after NAFTA and the EU in terms of trade.

Free zone - for 5 years!

All proposals were adopted by the Association of China, consisting of 10 countries. Agreed that China is becoming a part of the ASEAN Free Trade Area. Free market principles must take action in most of the ASEAN countries since 2003. It is assumed that the first phase of the zone, except in China, will include six more developed ASEAN countries - Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. And Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar will have to first work on the tariff regime. ASEAN - the first organization with which China had expressed its intention to conclude a free trade agreement. This reflects its economic interests and relationships, especially in connection with the entry of China into the World Trade Organization. A very interesting detail was the lack of any opposition to Chinese proposals from members of ASEAN, as originally expected opposition from Malaysia and Vietnam, worried about the competition of their goods from China.

Actually, since this happened in 2000, when at the summit in Singapore Zhu Rongji first proposed the idea of global development of trade and investment relations, but did not receive a clear response. On the eve of this meeting, the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad expressed to the effect that the inclusion of China, the advantages of free zones will be crossed displacement Malaysian companies from the market.

But at the Brunei summit he still left his fears to himself. This time, Zhu Rongji said nothing of the actual establishment of the free zone for 10 years, though, he said, the goal can be achieved already in 5-10 years. Identify key areas of cooperation - agriculture, information technology, labor, investment, and development of the Mekong River Basin (I must say that China has offered a $ 5 million aid to Laos, Myanmar and Thailand in the development of river transport in the Mekong) - officials ASEAN and China will begin immediate negotiations on specific project.