The importance of intra-regional trade between ASEAN and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region has also become increasingly important as a driver of ASEAN exports.
Notably, China-ASEAN bilateral economic ties have grown at a very rapid rate over the past three decades. Bilateral trade in goods between mainland China and ASEAN has risen at a remarkable rate, increasing from just USD 9 billion in 1991 to USD 685 billion in 2020. In 2020, ASEAN also surpassed the EU to become mainland China's largest trading partner for the first time. From the ASEAN perspective, mainland China has already been the largest market for ASEAN exports for the past 12 years. In 2021, bilateral trade between China and ASEAN recorded strong growth of 19.1% y/y.
Bilateral investment ties have also strengthened significantly. China's direct investment in ASEAN rose from an estimated USD 7 billion in 2020 to reach USD 13.6 billion in 2021, according to ASEAN statistics.