Nov 30, 2012

China - Much room for China-ASEAN economic co-op

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BEIJING - China holds great business opportunities for members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, who in turn welcome investment from Chinese enterprises, the heads of some ASEAN chambers of commerce said Thursday.

Dismissing concerns that China is not as friendly to foreign investment as it has been in the past, Seet Poh Kim, chairwoman of the Singaporean Chamber of Commerce in China, said China's sounder set of laws and rules have made the country more appealing to Singaporean enterprises.

Compared with a decade ago, the increase in laws that regulate economic activities help keep businesses on the right track, a boon for cooperation between the two sides, Seet said.

Peter Thong, former chairman of the Malaysian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China, echoed Seet's comments, saying although foreign-invested enterprises are no longer the recipients of preferential policies like tax cuts, China's large appetite for high-tech cooperation has made more room for Malaysian investment.

They made the remarks at a news briefing on enterprise cooperation between China and ASEAN members. The event was hosted in Beijing by the China-ASEAN Business Council, one of the main dialogue and cooperation mechanisms for China and ASEAN members.

Peter and Seet both said ASEAN enterprises should learn to adapt to the new business environment in China as the country upgrades its economic growth pattern.

At the same time, the ASEAN also welcomes more investment programs from Chinese enterprises, according to the attendees of the news briefing.

Tan Lui Hai, economic counselor at the Singaporean Embassy to China, said Chinese investment in Singapore is diversified, but the amount is relatively small.

He said Singapore, a country that presents few language and cultural barriers to China, welcomes more investment, especially from Chinese small and medium-sized enterprises.

The development of China's service industry will create new business opportunities for service-savvy Singaporean enterprises, and the mature investment environment in Singapore can also facilitate Chinese investment programs, according to Tan.

To back cooperation with the ASEAN, Xu Ningning, executive secretary general of the CABC, said at the briefing that China has set up a $10-billion fund to provide financial support to SMEs with investment ambitions in ASEAN member states.

Moreover, authorities are mulling policies such as favorable loans and tax cuts for Chinese enterprises to go abroad in ASEAN members, according to Xu.

Domestic enterprises can also stay informed on the latest investment information and business situations in the ASEAN through working conferences and other channels, Xu said.

The Malaysian and Singaporean chambers of commerce said they are willing to share business opportunities in the ASEAN with their Chinese friends.

China and ASEAN members should further open up their markets and step up efforts to create a more favorable environment for closer economic cooperation, Xu said.


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