VNBusinessNews.com – The China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has come into effect this year. But even before it officially took effect, the FTA had already prompted growing trade and commerce among some border cities in the region.
Mong Cai, once a sleepy town in Vietnam, is reviving prosperity thanks to a bridge linking it to neighbouring China’s Dongxing city.
A booming town on the borders of China and Vietnam, Dongxing was established during the Ming dynasty and became prosperous during the Qing dynasty.
The only city linking the two countries by both land and water, Dongxing is now a magnet for those hoping to cash in on its growing opportunities, with traders from both sides moving easily across the border to peddle their goods.
“Vietnam’s development is now very fast and good,” said 45-year-old Huang Zuluan, a Guangxi native. “I sell mainly Vietnamese products such as medicated oils and creams.”
Many Vietnamese peddlers cross to Dongxing early in the morning and return to Vietnam in the evening.
So accessible is border trade that the process has been described as “as simple as visiting one’s neighbors next door”.
Vendors at the largest retail market in Dongxing sell Vietnamese produce such as coffee, nuts coated in coffee powder, and dried seafood.
“Many Chinese tourists are unfamiliar with Vietnamese products. So by selling them, we also help promote these products,” said Huang Xianzhao, a dried seafood vendor.
Vendors are expecting to sell more with the China-ASEAN FTA taking effect in January.
The FTA is the biggest in the world, covering 1.9 billion people and US$6 trillion worth of trade.
The Agreement is expected to phase out over 90 per cent of tariffs between ASEAN and China.
It is hoped that the Agreement will help realise the goal of an ASEAN Economic Community with the free flow of goods and services.
“The development of ASEAN as a regional grouping will lead to more intense economic interactions,” said Xia Rui, a Hubei businessman. “That’s something that we welcome.”
The bustling trade and growing economic linkages in Dongxing are indications that the FTA first envisaged by China is beginning to bear fruit for both China and the region. (Channel News Asia)