BEIJING — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) became China’s biggest trading partner in the first half of this year, accounting for 14.7 percent of the nation’s total foreign trade volume, amid upgraded free trade area protocol and supply chain cooperation.
China’s trade with ASEAN stood at 2.09 trillion yuan (about $299 billion) in the first six months, up 5.6 percent year-on-year. Exports to ASEAN rose 3.4 percent to 1.15 trillion yuan, while imports climbed 8.5 percent to 938.57 billion yuan, data from the General Administration of Customs (GAC) showed Tuesday.
The expansion was partly buoyed by growing farm produce trade with ASEAN members under the upgraded protocol of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, which came into effect in October 2019, according to GAC spokesman Li Kuiwen. The farm produce trade between the two sides grew 13.2 percent in H1.
Another driver of trade between the two sides is the interconnectivity in electronic manufacturing between China and countries like Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore along the global supply chain, said Li. Integrated circuits, for instance, saw imports from and exports to ASEAN grow 23.8 percent and 29.1 percent in the period.
During the same period, China’s trade with Vietnam jumped 18.1 percent, pushing the bilateral trade volume to the top slot among ASEAN members, while trade with Thailand rose 9.2 percent.