China-Asean cooperation going wider, deeper

18:22, October 21, 2009      

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Two months ahead of the establishment of the China-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) free trade area (CAFTA), the cooperation between China and the ten ASEAN countries has already shown signs of going much wider and deeper.

Exchanges between China and ASEAN is expected to be expanded to more fields including finance and to be deepened in some traditional areas including agriculture, science and technology as more special conferences were held during the sixth annual trade and investment event opened Tuesday in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

"There is huge potential for financial cooperation between China and ASEAN as the two sides record fast development in the financial sector and their financial ties are inadequate to keep up with their trade exchanges," Su Ning, vice governor of China's central bank, said at the first China-ASEAN Summit Forum on Financial Cooperation and Development opened Tuesday afternoon, as a part of the CAEXPO.

The CAFTA, the world's largest FTA in terms of its 1.9 billion population and the 3rd largest in terms of trade volume, will undoubtedly create rising mutual demand for financial cooperation, while the global financial crisis also puts challenges ahead, said Ma Biao, chairman of the regional government.

Ma said the new financial forum was held at the right time when the CAFTA is drawing near and impact of the global financial crisis is still lingering on.

The forum closed on Wednesday with a joint declaration, vowing to build a new platform of financial cooperation which is suited to the CAFTA.

China-Asean Agricultural Cooperation Summit Forum was held for the first time ahead of the expo in Nanning, in which the two sides pledged to enhance agricultural cooperation to help improve economic development and prevent food crisis.

China and ASEAN countries inked "Nanning Consensus" on stepping up agricultural exchange and cooperation at the forum.

An agricultural exhibition of 600 booths was held for the first time at the expo, which aimed at expanding opportunities for agricultural cooperation among China and the ASEAN countries.

The sixth exhibition of advanced and applicable technologies for rural area had also opened during the expo.

China and ASEAN countries have great potential for science and technology cooperation, especially on agricultural sciences such as genetic food, said Cao Jianlin, vice minister of science and technology.

The exhibitors and turnover of the technology exhibition constantly increased in the last five years but still fell short of the bilateral cooperation on science and technology, he said.

Cao encouraged companies from both sides to exchange more on the expo for better understanding and further cooperation.

Innovation and creativity had been adopted to improve the attraction of the CAEXPO, said Xu Ningning, executive secretary general of China-ASEAN Business Council.

More professional audience had been attracted to the expo but the number still need to be increased, which is the key to make the expo more substantial, Xu said.

Xu suggested to increase a section of matchmaking meetings between trade associations of different industries in an effort to attract more professional audience.

The China-ASEAN relation had been closer with the development of the expo in the last five years and the sixth expo would build a good foundation for next year's establishment of CAFTA, said Alongkorn Ponlaboot, deputy minister of commerce of Thailand.

CAFTA would be a new chance for both China and ASEAN to obtain larger market shares in each other, said Pung Kheav Se, general manager of Canadia Bank of Cambodia, which takes 21 percent of the country's banking market. The bank plans to attract more investment from China to Cambodia and to open branches in China in the future.

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang declared Tuesday the opening of the sixth annual event, which attracted 2,450 exhibitors, 16.7 percent more than last year. The exhibitors were from ASEAN, China and some other countries including American, France and Italy.

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