(Yicai Global) March 12 -- China has inked 16 free trade agreements spanning 24 countries or regions to date and will continue to support multilateral trade negotiations and hold an open attitude toward talks on other topics.
The countries and regions include those in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, along the route of the Belt and Road Initiative, and others in South America, China's Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen said at a press briefing in response to an Yicai Global reporter's question.
Wang, Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan and Vice Minister of Commerce Qian Keming took questions from Chinese and foreign journalists at a conference during the 'two sessions,' the annual assemblies of China's top and legislative and political advisory bodies.
Free trade agreements have provided a broad space for the development of China's foreign trade and investment cooperation, Wang said, adding that China needs to further open up its free trade zones and make more exchanges with free trade partners.
Commerce and investment relations between China and its free trade partners grow faster than with other nations, he added. Trade between China and ASEAN member countries topped USD500 billion last year, six times as much as the year before the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement was brought in. The association has since become China's third-largest trading partner, up from fifth before the deal.