China is ASEAN's largest trading partner: now 11.6% of ASEAN's total trade

Economic ministers from ASEAN and China have discussed the possibility of using currency swaps between the Renminbi (Chinese Yuan) and ASEAN members' currencies for future bilateral trade.

According to Indonesia's Deputy Trade Minister, Mahendra Siregar, the discussion was relevant due to the current fluctuation of the global currency as a result of crisis in the United States and some European countries.

However, he said, all decisions should be made by the exporters and importers from ASEAN and China themselves. The government, he said, would play role as facilitator in this matter.

China has emerged to be ASEAN`s largest trading partner accounting for 11.6% of ASEAN's total trade.

ASEAN member countries` trade with China in 2010 reached a total value of $230 billion, making China the regional grouping`s biggest trading partner. The total value of ASEAN exports to China reached $113.5 billion, up 39.1% from a year earlier while ASEAN imports from China totaled $117.7 billion, up 21.8% from 2009.

Trade and economic ties between ASEAN and China have been growing rapidly over the past years, especially after the signing of the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation in November 2002 to establish the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA).

ASEAN statistics report that since the launch of the FTA in 2003, ASEAN`s trade with China has been rising at an annual average rate of 26%, resulting in the tripling of ASEAN`s trade with China, from $59.6 billion in 2003 to $196.9 billion in 2008.