KUALA LUMPUR: The collaboration between ASEAN and China can be further boosted for economic recovery from the pandemic by intensifying open trade and investment, strengthening the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and focusing on cross-border “travel bubble”, the Prime Minister said.
Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (pix) said by reinforcing ASEAN centrality and focusing on creating a favourable environment for strategic cooperation, both ASEAN and China will be able to overcome the pandemic crisis and emerge stronger and more resilient.
“As outlined in the ASEAN Economic Recovery Framework, we have to strive to keep the supply chain connectivity uninterrupted and facilitate the movement of essential goods and services by removing unnecessary barriers to trade.
“And by rolling back on new restrictive trade measures, we will be bringing ourselves closer to pre-pandemic economic growth rates,” he said in his recorded video message in conjunction with the 18th China-ASEAN Expo today.
Ismail Sabri said this is even more critical for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as these are the businesses that form the backbone of the economy, and stressed that it is timely for both ASEAN and China to promote cooperation in digital economy partnership, thus, facilitating the acceleration of technology adoption among SMEs.
He also said the RCEP, which was finally signed after eight years of negotiations, demonstrated to the world that ASEAN, together with their Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners, including China, is committed to the transnational supply chain and in keeping markets open amid the ravages of the global pandemic.
“As we transform adversity into opportunity, RCEP, once it comes into force, will serve as an integral tool that will help us navigate our region towards recovery and future growth,” the premier said. “This agreement provides immense opportunities to bolster regional supply chains and for businesses to diversify production networks. These are imperative for seamless integration into the global economy.”
Being an important partner of ASEAN, he said there could also be common initiatives regarding travel bubbles and quarantine arrangements that could be explored between ASEAN and China.
“By doing this, we will be in a much better position to revive not only the tourism industry but also our people-to-people connectivity. Similarly, mutual recognition of vaccination certification documents is another fertile area for collaboration,” he added.
The prime minister highlighted the efforts in reinstating people-to-people connectivity as the pandemic has resulted in border tightening, with travelling still being regarded as a high-risk activity.
“Thus, it is heartening that ASEAN is actively developing a travel corridor arrangement framework to facilitate cross-border trade and investments. This, in turn, will set the region on a steady path for economic recovery and growth.
“While we have been successful through our collective efforts, much more can still be attained. Thus far, China has been instrumental to ASEAN, particularly in being one of the earliest partners to offer assistance during this pandemic.
“I am optimistic that ASEAN and China can continue enhancing and elevating this strategic partnership to a higher level. Through shared commitments, the collaboration has resulted in ASEAN and China becoming the largest trading partner for each other last year,” Ismail Sabri said.
In 2020, China remained Malaysia’s largest export destination, with total exports to China expanding to US$37.92 billion and contributed 16.2 per cent of Malaysia’s total exports.
Held In Nanning, China from September 10-13, CAEXPO is one of the major exhibitions supported by the Chinese government, which returns this year in hybrid mode for the second time.-Bernama