ASEAN regains status as China's largest trading partner in Q1, as RCEP boosts cooperation
Published: Apr 13, 2022 01:13 PM


China's trade with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) totaled 1.35 trillion yuan ($212 billion) in the first quarter of 2022, an increase of 8.4 percent year-on-year, as ASEAN comes back as China's largest trading partner after the European Union (EU) surpassed it in the first two months this year, customs data showed.

Li Kuiwen, an official with the General Administration of Customs, said that data from the first quarter showed that China's imports and exports with ASEAN accounts for 14.4 percent of the country's total foreign trade value, while China's foreign trade with the EU reached 1.31 trillion yuan, showing that ASEAN regained its position as the country's largest trading partner.

Li said with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that came into effect at the beginning of the year, new dividends further boosted economic and trade relations between China and ASEAN. Customs data showed that in the first quarter, China's imports and exports with ASEAN accounted for 47.2 percent of the country's foreign trade with all RCEP trading partners.

At present, the number of countries where the RCEP has come into force has reached 12. From January to March, China's imports and exports with RCEP member countries reached 2.86 trillion yuan, an increase of 6.9 percent, accounting for 30.4 percent of China's total foreign trade value. 

The New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor has promoted the close connection between the western region of China and ASEAN members, which has strongly guaranteed the smooth flow of economic and trade exchanges between the two sides. Data showed that in the first three months, freight trains from the corridor have delivered 170,000 twenty foot equivalent units (TEUs), an increase of 56.5 percent compared with the same period last year. 

China-Laos Railway is also a convenient logistics channel between China and ASEAN, and a number of provinces and cities in China have started cross-border freight trains on railway. 

In the first quarter, the import and export by railroad transport between China and ASEAN increased significantly by 3.5 times, Li said.

Li also attributed the fast growth of foreign trade between the two sides to the stable recovery of regional industry chain. According to S&P global, the manufacturing purchasing managers index of ASEAN members was 51.7 in March, maintaining the expansion trend, driving China's trade with ASEAN in intermediate products to grow.

In the first quarter, China's import and export of intermediate products, those to be reprocessed or transferred, with ASEAN totaled 838.4 billion yuan, accounting for 62 percent of the volume of the country's total trade with ASEAN.

Li noted that China has actively expanded imports of agricultural products from ASEAN. From January to March, China's imports of agricultural products from ASEAN stood at 46.02 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 14.1 percent, accounting for 13.7 percent of the total value of the country's agricultural products imports. Among them, imports of aquatic products, and fruits and nuts from ASEAN increased by 26.2 percent and 17.3 percent, respectively.

Li noted that China and ASEAN are important trade partners with strong economic complementarity and extensive room for more cooperation. Bilateral trade will continue to maintain a good trend, he said.

Global Times