President, Tan Sri Lim Gait Tong said both sides initially aimed to achieve the US$1 trillion (RM4.07 trillion) by 2020, but was hampered by various global economic uncertainties, which saw trade slow down between 2014 and 2016 before picking up in 2017.
In 2018, the region’s trade with China grew at 14.1 per cent, while valued at US$587.9 billion.
“It will take much effort for both parties to achieve the set target. Asean enterprises should venture more deeply into China, to expand market penetration,” he told reporters at the Chinese New Year luncheon here today.
It was graced by Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia, Bai Tian.
Lim said Asean’s trade with China in the past was mainly concentrated in the South and among the cities of focus being Guangdong, Shanghai, Fujian, Jingsu and Guangxi, at 80 per cent.
“When China started to open its economy, these were the cities of focus. But now, there are so many cities in other provinces such as in the north and west, which have big potential for Asean enterprises to tap into,” he added.
Citing Shandong province which Caba is promoting, he said the province had a bigger population than Vietnam with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$1.2 trillion, which is larger than that of Indonesia which has one-third of Asean’s GDP.
He said Asean is China’s third largest trading partner behind the European Union (EU) (US$682.16 billion) and the United States (US$633.52 billion).
However, Lim noted that the region’s trade growth rate with China was faster than that with the EU (10.6 per cent) and the US (8.5 per cent).
He said Caba was committed to promoting cooperation and understanding between China and Asean.
Since its establishment in 2017, it has conducted 18 meetings with various Asean and Malaysian associations.
Meanwhile, Bai Tian in his speech said diplomatic and trade relations between China and Malaysia remained healthy and both countries achieved new progress in 2018 with increasing bilateral trade and Chinese tourist arrivals.
He said the value of bilateral trade reached a record high of US$108.6 billion last year, while the number of tourist arrivals from China to Malaysia increased by nearly 30 per cent to about 2.94 million.
With Malaysia aiming for five million Chinese tourist arrivals in 2020, he said the embassy would help in every possible way to achieve the target.
The good relations between Malaysia and China will be continued and strengthened with the upcoming second visit of Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamed in April, Bai added. — Bernama
Source: The Malay Mail Online