BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - Trade between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reached a record high of US$400.9 billion (S$502 billion) last year, according to the China-ASEAN Business Council Chinese Secretariat.
Citing a report from China Daily, the trade body said the biggest progress achieved last year was a consensus on the launch of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
"Sino-ASEAN trade was up 10.2 per cent year-on-year, compared with the country's total trade growth of 6.2 per cent in 2012," the report read.
As ASEAN's biggest trading partner, China saw the fastest growth in trade with the bloc last year.
Set up in 1967, ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It has a total area of 4.44 million square kilometres and a population of 576 million.
"In 2013, the main task in further boosting bilateral trade is to strengthen communication and complementarity among the different industries in the two economies," said the report, which was written by the executive secretary-general of the China-ASEAN Business Council, Xu Ningning.
"Duty-free policies do not automatically translate into common economic growth. To allow zero-tariff policies to support mutual growth, we need to take the important step of developing industry chains and having complementary advantages among trading partners.
"Attaching greater importance to industrial cooperation, which is still in its infancy between China and ASEAN countries, is the way to achieve true mutual development.
"To develop the economic relationship between China and ASEAN countries, measures are needed to further open the goods-trading market and eliminate tariffs for more products over the next few years," said Ningning.
"For example, coffee with medium-sized beans is one of the products that China imports from ASEAN countries. However, there is still an eight per cent tariff on the product, which should be under a duty-free policy."