Sea row set aside as China, ASEAN seek trade boost

China and Southeast Asian nations pledged Wednesday to strive for closer economic ties, setting aside regional tensions over a territorial row in the resource-rich South China Sea.

Trade between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) jumped to over $200 billion in the first seven months of 2012, up nine percent year-on-year, Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming said during a meeting with regional economic ministers in the Cambodian tourist hub of Siem Reap.

The business relationship between ASEAN and China was "particularly important" amid global economic gloom, he said, adding that both sides have "a solid basis for cooperation" and "bright prospects".

China is ASEAN's largest trading partner, while the 10-nation bloc last year overtook Japan as Beijing's third-biggest trading partner.

"China is willing to be ASEAN's good neighbour, good friend and good partner," Chen said in his opening remarks.

This week's talks between regional economic ministers mark the first high-level gathering of ASEAN members since a foreign ministers' meeting in July ended in acrimony over how to deal with a dispute in the South China Sea, exposing deep divisions within the bloc.

The tension that hung over those meetings appeared absent from the cordial gathering in Siem Reap, suggesting that ASEAN members do not want the maritime row to hurt business.

"It's a completely different ballgame," said Southeast Asia expert Carl Thayer, emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

The foreign and economic ministers have "completely different agendas", he added.

Friction within ASEAN also eased significantly after Indonesia got the bloc to agree on six key points on the South China Sea following intense diplomatic efforts in the days after the failed ASEAN summit, Thayer said.

China claims sovereignty over almost all of the resource-rich sea, which is home to vital shipping lanes, but ASEAN members the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims.

Hanoi and Manila have recently accused Beijing of increasingly aggressive behaviour in the disputed waters.

The ASEAN group, which also includes Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand, saw its economies as a whole grow by 4.7 percent in 2011, down from 7.6 percent growth in 2010, according to ASEAN data.

"We recognise the external environment has become more hostile," Malaysian Minister for International Trade and Industry Mustapa Mohamed said, in a nod to the economic troubles of the key eurozone and US markets.

Nonetheless, "we consider ourselves to be one of the most dynamic regions in the world under the circumstances", he told AFP on the sidelines of the talks.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ‘Conflict to affect economic growth, stability in SEA’
    ‘Conflict to affect economic growth, stability in SEA’

    Conflict in the South China Sea can affect economic growth and stability in Southeast Asia, New Zealand warned yesterday, amid China’s aggressive reclamation activities in disputed waters. New Zealand is marking its 40 th year of diplomatic ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and hopes to intensify trade and other linkages with the 10-member grouping. ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have overlapping territorial claims with China over the Spratly …

  • OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF
    OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF

    The Philippine government is asking the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to finally complete the tripartite review process of the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The review – snagged  for several years as government had its hands full with the peace process with rival faction Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – tackles how the 1996 peace pact with the MNLF has been implemented and centers on the three remaining …

  • Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe
    Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe

    Eight of the resource persons ordered arrested by the Senate finally attended the 21st public hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee into the alleged anomalies involving Vice President Jejomar Binay, but the proceedings turned out to be a review of matters previously presented. For over three hours, the subcommittee heard presentations regarding the alleged hidden assets of Binay and the issue regarding the supposed P200 million in kickbacks he received from a deal between the Boy …

  • DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe
    DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) is wrapping up its investigation into the “massacre” of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. A joint team of prosecutors and NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) investigators is about to finish the second part,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has told congressmen. Pagdilao stressed that it has been more than a month since De Lima announced to the media that the DOJ would be …

  • APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism
    APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism

    BALANGA CITY, Bataan – More than 2,000 delegates of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and international media outfits are expected to enjoy the splendid coastline of Bagac town, which faces the West Philippine Sea, as they converge for a workshop in this province next month. …

  • DOST opens P54-M research facility
    DOST opens P54-M research facility

    A P54-million research and development facility of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) was recently opened in Bicutan, Taguig for scientists and researchers to develop technology and techniques to allow Filipino fashion and clothing designers and manufacturers to produce more mainstream products from local, tropical fabrics like piña, banana and abaca. Science Secretary Mario Montejo said the Innovation Center for Yarns and Textiles (ICYT) is the DOST’s flagship effort at reviving …

  • DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights
    DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights

    Philippine embassy officials in Doha have raised their concern with Qatari authorities over coercion and human rights violations in the alleged forcing of three Filipino workers convicted of spying to provide information and confess to the crime. Speaking to reporters, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose yesterday said the embassy has raised the matter during several high-level meetings with Qatari officials and the national human rights committee in Qatar. “Our embassy …

  • US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl
    US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl

    US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told his Philippine counterpart on Wednesday that Washington’s pledge to defend the Pacific nation remains “ironclad” and called for an end to land reclamation in the South China Sea, officials said. In talks in Hawaii with Voltaire Gazmin, Philippine secretary of national defense, the Pentagon chief “reaffirmed” the strong ties between the two countries and discussed territorial disputes in the contested waters of the South China Sea, where Beijing has been …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options