ASEAN, China laud bilateral trade-investment growth despite pandemic hinh anh 1People attend the eighth Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Meeting via video conference in Hanoi, Vietnam on Aug. 27, 2020 (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Economic ministers from member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China on August 27 welcomed the robust growth of bilateral trade and investment despite impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a joint statement of the 19th AEM (ASEAN Economic Ministers)-MOFCOM (Ministry of Commerce of China) Consultations, which was held virtually, the ministers considered the growth a demonstration of resilience and huge potential of trade and economic cooperation between ASEAN and China. The consultations were part of the 52nd meeting of the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM-52) and related meetings hosted by Vietnam.

The ministers reaffirmed the importance of strengthened collaboration to promote trade and investment for economic recovery and acknowledged the important role of the rules-based multilateral trading system in driving post-pandemic economic recovery.

They reiterated their support to ensure the enforcement of existing international rules as well as for the WTO reform to uphold a free, open, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable trade and investment environment.

The ministers also hailed the Joint Statement on Enhancing Cooperation under Free Trade Area (FTA) and Combating COVID-19, which sent a positive signal of utilizing the FTA to promote trade and investment, maintain regional and global supply chains, mitigate the pandemic's economic impacts, and build a stronger economic region.

China remained ASEAN's largest trading partner since 2009 while ASEAN became China's largest trading partner for the first time in the first half of this year, said the statement. In 2019, their bilateral trade reached 507.9 billion USD and foreign direct investment flows from China to ASEAN amounted to 9.1 billion USD./.