ASEAN China Investment Fund Launched To Target SMEs

By Agence France-Presse An Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) China investment fund was launched in Thailand March 19 aimed at directing $125 million to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in China and Southeast Asia. The private equity fund was launched by visiting Swiss President Joseph Deiss, whose country is a main initiator and contributor to the fund involving China and the 10 members of the ASEAN. "It is the first private equity fund that will serve small- and medium-sized enterprises in the whole ASEAN China region," Deiss said. "It is also the first time ever that a private equity fund has an explicit goal to promote closer economic and trade links within the countries of ASEAN and between ASEAN and China," he said. China and ASEAN have grand plans to set up the world's largest free trade area by 2010, which will boast 1.7 billion consumers, a combined economy worth about $2.0 trillion and combined external trade of over $1.2 trillion, according to fund documents. The fund plans to target growth industries such as car parts, electronics and transport over eight years, after which investments will be liquidated with all proceeds distributed to investors. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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