China seen increasing Asean imports
Philexport News and Features (The Philippine Star) - August 5, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines’ manufacturing sector is expected to get a boost from China’s recent pledge to increase its imports from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as part of its rebalancing effort after bilateral trade started to favor China in the second half of 2012.

China’s exports of ordinary and processed goods to the ASEAN have been increasing rapidly over the years, said Willem Thorbecke, senior fellow of the Research Institute of Economy, Trade, and Industry in Japan, in an August 1, 2013 briefing in Manila.

In contrast, its imports from the region have tapered a little over the past few years, he noted during his talk on “Understanding the PRC’s Evolving Trade Patterns.”

In 2012, trade between China and the ASEAN hit $400.1 billion, up 10.2 percent over the preceding year, with an average annual growth rate of 22 percent.

Chinese exports totaled $204.3 billion, while imports amounted to $195.8 billion last year, leaving China with a trade surplus of $8.5 billion, Chinese government statistics show.

China is ASEAN’s biggest trade partner, and the ASEAN is China’s third largest trade partner.

For the Philippines in particular, exports to China have been inching up, although they have leveled off somewhat of late, said Thorbecke, with trade between the two going in China’s favor.

Data gathered by the National Statistics Office show that Philippine exports to China amounted to $572 million in May 2013, while imports totaled $727.4 million. This has created a two-way trade value of $1.3 billion and a trade deficit of $155.4 million for the Philippines during the month.

Thorbecke said the slowdown since 2007 of Philippine shipments, particularly of electronic products, to China could be traced to “structural issues,” including those on infrastructure, power costs, and corruption.

These concerns need to be addressed to make the Philippines’ business environment friendlier to foreign direct investments and bolster the competitiveness of the parts and components sector in the Chinese and even global markets, he said.

He further said that the Philippines would benefit from the coming ASEAN economic unification. “The more integrated (the region is) the easier for parts and components to go back and forth within the region,” he told Philexport News and Features in an exclusive interview.

Last month, China’s vice minister of Commerce Gao Yan said at a press conference that the country plans to enhance trade with ASEAN through cooperation in areas including customs and quality checking, Chinese dailies reported. It will also send purchasing groups to buy agricultural products from within ASEAN.

Gao forecast China-ASEAN trade to reach $500 billion in 2015.

ASEAN ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS CHINA COMMERCE GAO YAN EVOLVING TRADE PATTERNS FOR THE PHILIPPINES NATIONAL STATISTICS OFFICE PHILEXPORT NEWS AND FEATURES RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF ECONOMY TRADE
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