The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has now become China's fourth-largest trade partner since the official launch of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area on January 1, china.com.cn reported Monday, citing Vice-Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng.
Bilateral trade between China and ASEAN's 10 member states in the first half of this year rose 55 percent year-on-year to $136.5 billion, Gao said at a press conference held Monday morning. The growth rate was 11 percentage points higher than that of China's overall imports and exports in the same period.
China's imports from ASEAN hit $71.9 billion in the first six months of the year, up 64 percent from a year ago, while exports to the bloc reached $64.6 billion yuan, up 45 percent year-on-year, according to the report.
In 2009 alone, China exempted tariffs worth 6.1 billion yuan ($900 million) on imports from ASEAN, it added.
The ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.