China signed an agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Saturday giving the two parties "most-favored nation" status, a move intended to increase trade by as much as 60% over the next two years, Bloomberg reported. China is currently the eighth-largest investor in the regional organization, having invested about US$6.1 billion in ASEAN nations in 2008, though trade between the two fell 24% to US$88 billion in the first half of 2009. China said in April that it would develop a US$10 billion investment fund and offer US$15 billion in credit to southeast Asian countries. China’s commerce ministry said in a statement that Saturday’s agreement signals that China and ASEAN are committed to promoting free trade and opposing protectionism.
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