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China seeks more trade ties with Asean

China is looking to upgrade its Southeast Asia trade ties as the US government squeezes it economically through tariffs and curbs on its hi-tech sector, the South China Morning Post reported.

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Beijing: Beijing says it will approach leaders in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc this week about accelerating the Asean-China Free Trade Area ‘Version 3.0’

China is looking to upgrade its Southeast Asia trade ties as the US government squeezes it economically through tariffs and curbs on its hi-tech sector, the South China Morning Post reported.

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China is expected to start talks with Southeast Asian nations about an upgrade to their giant free-trade zone in a potential boost to the stability of Beijing’s manufacturing supply chains amid mounting rivalry with the United States, it said.

Officials in Beijing have told state-run media they will approach leaders in the Asean bloc this week about accelerating negotiations for what they call the Asean-China Free Trade Area “Version 3.0”. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is in Phnom Penh this week to meet with the bloc’s 10 members.

In September, the Foreign Ministry said establishment of Version 3.0 “is about to start”. China is looking to expand the trade zone to keep supply chains and markets open in a part of the world it considers crucial, the Post said.

“Everything is becoming more strategic these days, and every trade announcement is becoming more tied to geopolitics than ever before rather than to direct flows,” said Jayant Menon, a visiting senior fellow with the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute’s Regional Economic Studies Programme in Singapore.

Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam comprise Asean, which is a growing centre for manufactured goods that are sometimes sent to China for final assembly and re-export.

China-Asean trade is valued at US$878.2 billion, the Ministry said in September.

China is looking to upgrade its Asean trade ties as the US government squeezes it economically through tariffs and curbs on its hi-tech sector, while bypassing Chinese involvement in its own trade deals.

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