HONG KONG, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- "I want more Chinese traders to come here to buy and export our fresh, sweet and succulent dragon fruits," Nguyen Huy Phong, a 50-year-old farmer from Vietnam's southern Binh Thuan province, told Xinhua on Wednesday.
In the first half of the year, China's trade with Vietnam jumped 18.1 percent, pushing bilateral trade to the top slot among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), data from China's General Administration of Customs showed.
In addition, China's trade with the ASEAN stood at 2.51 trillion yuan (about 362 billion U.S. dollars) in the first seven months, up 6.6 percent year on year.
The ASEAN remained China's biggest trading partner during the same period, accounting for 14.6 percent of its total foreign trade volume.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a disruption in the global supply chain, China-ASEAN trade relations "are being further boosted by great efforts from two sides, including governments who are determined to find measures to maintain trade flow and eliminate COVID-19's impacts, and the businesses themselves who are committed to the potential markets," said Vo Tri Thanh, former deputy head of Vietnam's Central Institute for Economic Management.
During the virtual Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) ministerial meeting on Thursday, ministers of ASEAN members, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand reaffirmed their commitment to signing the deal at its upcoming November summit.
Initiated by ASEAN in 2012, RCEP is a proposed FTA between the 10 ASEAN member states and their six partners -- China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India. In November, 15 participating countries of the agreement concluded text-based negotiations and essentially all market access issues at an RCEP summit in Thai capital Bangkok.