China is willing to work with all parties to build roads, railway lines, air and sea route networks in East Asia to improve regional connectivity and trade flows, Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said on Aug 4.
These goals can be achieved through the cooperative framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, the minister said in Vientiane, the capital of Laos while attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Trade and Economic Ministers’ Meeting, which also involved China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK).
China is keen to work with partner countries to draw support from financial institutions including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road Fund and the Asian Development Bank, to obtain funding for the projects.
“The Asia-Pacific Model E-port Network will become an important platform to promote regional trade facilitation and the development of supply chain connectivity,” said Gao.
“China welcomes ROK, Japan and ASEAN members joining this efficient network,” he said.
Established in 2015 with members including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia and Canada, the APMEN applies new technology such as cloud computing, big data and the internet of things to create new opportunities for improving regional trade and supply chain connectivity.
“We will also work closely with all related parties to complete talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership by the end of this year,” said Gao.
The minister said China will also offer necessary assistance to certain ASEAN members, with smaller economies, to build electronic ports.
China, Japan and ROK remained the ASEAN’s first, second and fifth-largest trading partners in 2015, respectively. The total trade volume between three countries and the ASEAN nations amounted to $708.6 billion last year, accounting for 41 percent of the region’s foreign trade.
At the same time, China, Japan and South Korea invested $31.3 billion in ASEAN countries, taking 32 percent of the regions’ foreign direct investment.
“We also wish to reach a consensus on the talks on a China-Japan-ROK free trade agreement as soon as possible to further cut trade costs, as well as create new market growth points for businesses in three countries,” said Gao.
“As China, ROK and Japan have solid industrial foundations and financial capabilities to carry out international production capacity cooperation, they are capable of accelerating the pace of industrialization and economic structure adjustment in the ASEAN region,” said Lin Guijun, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.