Economy, Investment and Trade
17th ASEAN-China Transport Ministers Meeting
(8 November 2018) The Seventeenth ASEAN and China Transport Ministers Meeting (17th ATM+China) was co-chaired by the Thai transport minister and Chinese transport vice minister. The joint ministerial statement commended ASEAN and China’s 15-year transport cooperation and expressed appreciation for the progress made in numerous major joint projects and activities. Further, the ministers adopted in principle the 2018-2020 Action Programme of the Revised Strategic Plan for ASEAN-China Transport Cooperation which aligns ASEAN’s goals and actions in the Kuala Lumpur Transport Strategic Plan 2016-2025 with China’s vision for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Eighteenth ASEAN and China Transport Ministers Meeting (18th ATM+China) will be held in Vietnam in 2019.
Thailand-China economic cooperation to be upgraded
(8 November 2018) Thailand and China inked an agreement to further enhance trade and economic cooperation, with the aim to double bilateral trade to US$140 billion by 2021. Trade between the two countries in the first nine months of 2018 reached US$45.71 billion, up 11.6% from the same period in 2017. According to Thai Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, the cooperation will cover seven key areas namely trade, investment, science and technology, digital tourism, finance and regional economic cooperation. Collaborative initiatives included providing support to Thai entrepreneurs’ in their involvement in the China International Import Expo (CIIE) every year, promoting cooperation on farm products and the organizing of regular joint working meetings.
China and Myanmar ink Kyaukphyu SEZ deal
(8 November 2018) The Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Management Committee and China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) signed a framework agreement to develop Rakhine State’s Kyaukphyu SEZ. Located strategically between China, India and ASEAN, the project will enable China to access the Bay of Bengal to further enhance Beijing’s reach in the region through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The first phase of the project which involves the construction of two jetties that cost up to US$1.3 billion, will commence after environmental and social impact assessments are conducted. According to the framework agreement, a joint Myanmar-Chinese consortium will hold the rights to operate the port.
More development aid is expected during Chinese President’s next visit
(9 November 2018) Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit the Philippines after November 18, his first of such visit since the election of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. High on the agenda is cooperation to further President Duterte’s five-year ‘Build, Build, Build’ policy. This includes commitments to help build a US$3.3 billion railway line from Manila to the Bicol Peninsula and a US$606 million railway line in Mindanao. Further, the governments are expected to discuss cooperation for joint oil or gas exploration off the coast of Palawan, as the Philippines looks to develop undersea fuels to reduce dependency on costly imports. The two presidents last met in 2016 in Beijing where China pledged US$24 billion in development aid and investment for the Philippines.
ASEAN sec-gen lauds cooperation with China
(11 November 2018) Ahead of the 33rd ASEAN Summit, ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi lauded relations between ASEAN and China in a written interview with media portal Xinhua. According to Lim, China has been ASEAN’s largest trading partner since 2009, accounting for 17.1% of its total trade in 2017, and that cooperation between both parties have expanded and deepened over the years. Further, he looked forward to ASEAN and China making greater strides in several areas of cooperation such as in the implementation of the China-ASEAN FTA and the ‘Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea’ as well as in the pursuance of mutually beneficial initiatives to address traditional and non-traditional security challenges.