The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China have agreed to negotiate for an upgraded ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) in order to ensure that the ACFTA remains dynamic and facilitates trade activities, said a joint statement of consultations between the two sides.

The consultations between ASEAN economic ministers and the Chinese Minister of Commerce (AEM-MOFCOM) took place in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, on August 26, within the framework of the 46th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting.

The ministers said that the agreement on upgrading the ACFTA reflects the positive relations between the two sides and helps deepen their economic cooperation in a mutually beneficial manner.

They also urged to expedite the conclusion of the Custom Procedures and Trade Facilitation (CPTF) negotiations and to report progress made to the next AEM-MOFCOM consultations.

China remains ASEAN’s largest trade partner, with two-way trade hitting 350.5 billion USD in 2013, up 7.7 percent against the previous year and accounting for 14 percent of the bloc’s total trade turnover.

The ministers reaffirmed their commitment to bringing the figure to 500 billion USD by the end of 2015, said the statement.

Established in January 1, 2010, ACFTA covers a population of 1. 8 billion, with total gross domestic product of 6 trillion USD and trade reaching 4.5 trillion USD. It represents the biggest FTA made up of developing countries in the world./.