From left: Malaysia Minister of International Industry and Commerce Dato Seri Mustapa Mohamed, Myanmar Minister of Planning and Finance Republic Kyaw Win, Philippine Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo, Thailand Department of Trade Negotiations Director General Boonyarit Kalayanamit, Vietnam Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh, Philippine Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, Singapore Minister of Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang, Brunei Darussalam Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng, Cambodia's Nguon Sokha, Indonesian Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukita, Laos Minister of Industry and Commerce Khemmani Pholsena and ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh join hands as they pose during the opening ceremony of the 49th Meeting of the ASEAN Economic Ministers and Related Meetings in Manila, Philippines on Sept. 7, 2017. (AARON FAVILA / AP)
MANILA - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Friday welcomed China's proposal to synergize the Belt and Road Initiative with the bloc's development strategy to further enhance and integrate China-ASEAN economic and trade ties.
In a joint statement issued by the trade ministers from ASEAN member states and China at the end of their meeting, the ministers said that China's Belt and Road Initiative aims "at create trade, financial, and culture networks stretching from East Asia to Europe and beyond, focusing on key areas of industrial development, financial integration and reform, and infrastructure construction."
"In this relation, the ministers underscored the importance to ensure that the initiative is a win-win collaboration formula," the statement read.
The statement noted the progress made in the discussion on the proposed joint statement between China and ASEAN on further deepening the cooperation of infrastructure connectivity.
The ministers also noted the developments in the ASEAN-China connectivity cooperation and the outcomes of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing this May.
Moreover, the ministers expressed appreciation for China's efforts to organize the first China International Import Expo in 2018. They encouraged the active participation of the 10 ASEAN member states in the event.
The ministers also welcomed the continued "strong levels" of trade and investment between China and ASEAN, noting that China maintained its position as ASEAN's largest trading partner since 2009 and continued to be ASEAN's fourth largest external source of foreign direct investment (FDI).
ASEAN data showed that merchandise trade between ASEAN and China reached US$368 billion in 2016, accounting for 16.5 percent of ASEAN's total merchandise trade. Moreover, it showed that FDI flows from China to ASEAN amounted to US$9.2 billion in 2016, accounting for 9.5 percent of total ASEAN's FDI.
China's Belt and Road Initiative, valued at about US$1 trillion, aims at getting some 60 countries to invest in infrastructure projects to develop land and maritime routes following the old Silk Road network that once connected China to Central Asia and Europe.
ASEAN economic ministers kicked off a four-day meeting in Manila on Thursday to discuss ways on how to further strengthen economic ties and further integrate trade and investment in Southeast Asia.
ASEAN economic ministers will also meet their counterparts from Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States to exchange views on global and regional economic developments and discuss trade agreements and economic cooperation mechanisms with these partners.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
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