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China-ASEAN free trade starts new year

Scott Tong Dec 31, 2009
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China-ASEAN free trade starts new year

Scott Tong Dec 31, 2009
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TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: The Chinese Commerce Ministry says it is strongly dissatisfied with yesterday’s trade ruling. The U.S. International Trade Commission said Chinese companies that are subsidized have been dumping steel piping in this country, and the U.S. will impose new duties on those imports.

While U.S. trade tensions simmer, China is welcoming a new free trade zone with the rest of Asia at midnight tonight. China is teaming with the ASEAN countries of Southeast Asia to form a trade bloc that will rival NAFTA or the European Union. From Shanghai, Marketplace’s Scott Tong reports.


Scott Tong: In with the new, out with the tariffs. Duties on some 7,000 products traded between China and Southeast Asia are all going away on New Year’s Day. Lots of those products are parts, if you think of the region as one big, cross-border assembly line.

Rudolpo Severino is with the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore:

Rudolpo Severino: If Southeast Asian components get into China at less cost, and China assembles them, then the goods will become cheaper.

That’s good for consumers.

But furniture makers in Indonesia are asking to keep tariffs: they fear competition from China will pummel them — especially as Beijing holds its currency artificially cheap.

Malcolm Cook at the Lowy Institute in Sydney says many Southeast Asian countries have a trade deficit with China.

Malcolm Cook: The growing strength of China and the shift in trade flows is without a doubt increasing some concerns about Chinese competition in the region.

The China-ASEAN trade deal still protects industries deemed “sensitive.” Like Indonesian popcorn and toilet paper from China.

In Shanghai, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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