NANNING, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- The China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) will be established as planned on Jan. 1, 2010, setting up a significant milestone in regional economic cooperation, Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang said here Tuesday.
Li made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, which was held simultaneously with the China-ASEAN Exop from Oct. 20 to 24 in Nanning, capital city of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Zero-tariff treatment will be realized for 90 percent products traded between China and ASEAN countries when CAFTA is set up, while the service trade market between the two sides will be opened in a substantial way, according to Li.
"CAFTA marks that trade ties between China and ASEAN are to enter a new stage. We should further promote mutual economic and trade cooperation to a deeper level, as well as make joint efforts to boost the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment," Li said.
ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam with a total area of 4.5 million square kilometers.
"We firmly oppose trade and investment protectionism in any forms, in a purpose to advance global economic recovery and sustainable prosperity," Li said.
CAFTA is expected to become Asia's largest and the world's third largest FTA with a trade volume of 4.5 trillion U.S. dollars and a combined GDP of 6 trillion U.S. dollars, following the North American FTA and the European FTA. But in terms of the 1.9 billion population it covers, it will be the largest FTA in the world.
China-ASEAN Expo, initiated by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the 7th China-ASEAN summit in 2003, has become an annual event held in the permanent venue of Nanning, serving as a platform to increase regional exchanges and seek common prosperity.