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China, Asean Must Work Even More Closely

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CHONGQING (China) – China and Asean must work even more closely to ensure stability in regional finance, economics and politics, said Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The deputy prime minister said the move was important in order to fully unleash the potentials of both economies.

“Diplomatic negotiations should be the default first-choice response towards resolving potential disagreements and further simplification of trade between both sides.

“As the Chinese proverb says, ‘if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with others’,” he said in his keynote address at the Sixth World Chinese Economic Forum (WCEF), here Thursday.

Asean, he said, would become China’s largest trading partner by next year which coincides with the expected realisation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC).

In drawing his attention to the matter, Muhyiddin said Asean’s trade over the past few years was in no small part due to the Asean-China Free Trade Area.

The agreement reduced the average tariff rate on Chinese goods exported to Asean countries from 12.8 per cent to 0.6 per cent, whereas the tariff rate on Asean goods exported to China was reduced from 9.8 per cent to 0.1 per cent.

He said Asean was also working closely with China on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which would present opportunities for countries to contribute to more inclusive and equitable economic growth and development.

“The signatories to the RCEP, when it is concluded, will account for almost half the world’s population, and close to the same percentage of global trade,” he said.

Further substantiating his point, he said the China-Asean economies had become increasingly compatible too.

“Given China’s reorientation towards bolstering domestic demand coupled with rapid urbanisation and the rise of the middle-class, this will stimulate the demand for products and services from Asean members,” Muhyiddin said.

He said Asean’s 600 million strong consumer market was also an attractive draw for Chinese businesses.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in September this year placed China as the world’s largest economy by purchasing power parity, overtaking the United States, he said.

On the home front, he said China was Malaysia’s largest trading partner, and Malaysia was China’s largest trading partner in Asean.

Touching on the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and MH17 tragedies, the Malaysian leader thanked all parties, especially the Chinese government, for their invaluable technical know-how assistance, expertise and most important, their understanding and patience to Malaysia during this difficult time.

Flight MH370 with 239 people on board including 153 Chinese nationals was en route to China when it mysteriously vanished about an hour after take-off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 8 this year.

Flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17, as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.

Muhyiddin is on the fifth day of his six-day official visit to China covering Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing since Sunday. – BERNAMA

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