BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will deepen cooperation and upgrade the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA), said Chinese Ambassador to Brunei Zheng Xianglin.
China and ASEAN will work to build an upgraded version of the CAFTA, Zheng said in an interview with Xinhua ahead of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Brunei, Thailand and Vietnam and his attendance of East Asia leaders meetings.
Premier Li last month proposed "an upgraded version" of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) at the opening ceremony of the 10th China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Nanning.
To build an "upgraded version" of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA), Zheng said that both sides should renew and expand the contents and range of CAFTA, further opening-up, uplift the level of freedom and convenience for trade and investment, so as to significantly increase trade volume and benefit peoples from both sides.
Zheng said that the China-ASEAN FTA, fully established in 2010 as scheduled, has played a major role in promoting bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
With the joint efforts from both sides, the China-ASEAN FTA has been making consistent progress and achieving fruitful results, he said.
The achievements of China-ASEAN cooperation on trade and investment over the past decade reflected the huge demand for common development of both sides, therefore, to upgrade China-ASEAN FTA is in accordance with the trend of time, and meet the demand for social and economic development of both sides, Zheng said.
Zheng said that China has vigorously worked with the ASEAN to advance talks of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a ground-breaking initiative for all 16 participating countries which, together, account for almost half of the world population and 30 percent of global GDP.
At present, China is the largest trading partner of ASEAN while ASEAN is China's third largest trading partner.
Zheng also asked for efforts to take full advantage of the 10+1 framework as the leading role and the 10+3 framework as the main cooperation channel in East Asia.