In accordance with the framework agreement signed in November, the Free Trade Area between China and ASEAN will apply to trade in goods and services, investment and economic cooperation. Trade in goods will be at the heart of the free trade area. Changes to the free trade area framework mainly concerned Vietnam. These amendments were intended to help Vietnam reduce tariffs and were cited as guidelines.  “China is the world`s largest trading partner and one of the top ten foreign investors in Thailand,” Sontirat said. “With at least 1.4 billion people and strong economic growth, China is unquestionably one of the giants of the global economy and plays a crucial role in stimulating not only Asia, but also the global economy.” RCEP members worked on two parallel negotiations on market access for goods and services and a draft contract text, the official said. China intends to establish a free trade area with Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand in 2010, as well as with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam in 2015. The first phase focused on the first six signatories who, until 2010, expressed support for the abolition of their tariffs on 90% of their products.  Between 2003 and 2008, trade with ASEAN increased from $59.6 billion to $192.5 billion.  China`s transformation into a major economic power in the 21st century has led to an increase in foreign investment in the bamboo network, with a network of Overseas Chinese companies operating in Southeast Asian markets and sharing family and cultural ties.   In 2008, ASEAN members and the People`s Republic of China had a nominal gross domestic product of about $6 trillion.   Relations between the People`s Republic of China and Thailand are changing as trade has become the dominant theme of bilateral relations.  Thailand continues to support the one-China policy and maintains unofficial relations with Taiwan.
This helps Thailand access capital and the huge Chinese continental market.  Thai Chinese companies are part of the largest bamboo network.  The Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group), a major Thai conglomerate founded by the Thai-Chinese Chearavanont family, is the largest foreign investor in China.  According to Trade Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, global cooperation will cover seven key areas: trade, investment, science/technology, digital, tourism, finance and regional economic cooperation. As part of regional cooperation, Thailand and China agreed to encourage the private sector to make the most of the Asean-China free trade agreement and to establish links with the Pan Pearl River Delta, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao region, Mekong-Lancang cooperation, the Greater Mekong Region and the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy. Negotiators from the 16-nation Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP) are in the Thai capital this week to try to finalize the world`s largest free trade area with one-third of the world`s gross domestic product. The free trade agreement reduced tariffs to 7,881 product categories, or 90% of imported products at zero.  This reduction came into effect in China and in the original six ASEAN members: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The other four countries are expected to follow in 2015.  India agreed on the principle of a safeguard mechanism that would trigger tariffs if goods from a partner country had been dumped, a source familiar with the Reuters news agency`s negotiations in India said last week.
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand has a “good feeling” that a China-backed free trade pact for countries with nearly half the world`s population has been agreed this year after years of delays, a Thai official said on Friday.