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China-ASEAN trade to keep steady growth in H2: official

China's trade with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries is expected to maintain steady growth in the latter half of this year, after growing by a quarter in the first half, a commerce official said Tuesday.

The optimism is based on the fact that the two sides are at the stage of fast development, Gao Hucheng, Vice Minister of Commerce, said at a press conference.

Gao said he was confident that the bilateral trade value will reach 500 billion U.S. dollars by the end of 2015, considering the current pace of growth.

Bilateral trade rose 25.4 percent to 171.12 billion U.S. dollars year-on-year in the first six months, according to data released by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).

Over the past 20 years, trade between ASEAN and China increased 37-fold. ASEAN overtook Japan as China's third largest trading partner in the first half of this year, said the ministry earlier this month.

The MOC will continue to facilitate trade and investment between the two sides, Gao said.

He said China does not seek a trade surplus with the ASEAN nations and welcomes more imports.

MOC data shows ASEAN has maintained a trade surplus with China since establishing trade relations with the country. Surplus exceeded 10 billion U.S. dollars in the first six months.

China will also continue to encourage Chinese companies to invest in ASEAN nations, notably in the areas of textiles, iron and steel, ship-making, chemical and auto industries, Gao said.

By the end of June, bilateral investment had reached nearly 80 billion U.S. dollars, according to MOC data.