JAKARTA, Mar. 25 -- ASEAN Secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan said here Wednesday that the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area should be mutually beneficial to both sides.
Surin made the remarks upon his return from his first official visit to China at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, according to a press release issued by ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations) Secretariat on Wednesday.
The secretary-general said, "When China grows, ASEAN grows with it and when ASEAN prospers, China also benefits."
The ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA), the largest FTA in the world in terms of its market size which covers 1.9 billion people, came into effect on January 1, 2010.
It has a combined GDP of 5.8 $trillion in 2008 and a total trade of $4.3 trillion with the global community.
Surin said China had expressed its interest to intensify cooperation on trade, investment, tourism, infrastructure, human resource development, people-to-people interaction and business sector partnerships.
Surin expressed appreciation for China's understanding and willingness to work with ASEAN in the adjustments that ASEAN Member States need to make in implementing the ACFTA.
"China commits to provide a firmer foundation for long-term cooperation," Surin was quoted as saying.
During the official visit, Surin called on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Commerce Minister Chen Deming.
Surin also visited Hubei and Jiangsu Provinces of China where he promoted the opportunities for the provinces to trade with and invest in ASEAN, and promote two-way tourism.
"ASEAN can be on the supply chain for the various industries operating in the provinces of China," said Surin, who described this as a win-win situation for both sides.