Fruitful expo gets China, ASEAN ready to embrace a bright future

09:18, October 25, 2009      

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Liu Gang, director of Guangxi State Farms Bureau, had a busy but fruitful day on Oct. 21 as his bureau inked 39 project deals with enterprises both from home and abroad.

The deals, with a total investment of 16 billion yuan (2.34 billion U.S. dollars), were signed with enterprises from Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan and Italy and others at the 6th China-ASEAN Expo held in Nanning, capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, from Oct. 20 to 24.

The expo aimed at embracing free trade and mutual investment between China and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), ahead of the operation of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) on Jan. 1, 2010.

"The CAFTA will be a terrific opportunity for us to open to the world", Liu said excitedly.

The excitement was shared by both Chinese and foreign exhibitors attending the five-day expo, who were attracted by the huge China-ASEAN market with 1.9 billion people, one third of the world population.

The CAFTA is expected to become Asia's largest and the world's third largest FTA with a trade volume of 4.5 trillion U.S. dollars and a combined GDP of 6 trillion U.S. dollars.

The CAFTA would be an excellent opportunity to strengthen economic and trade ties, expand trade and investment cooperation between China and ASEAN, and develop the cooperation in other areas, said Surin Pitsuwan, secretary general of ASEAN.

The expo this year played a more important role in stepping up economic ties as the CAFTA would be fully established soon, he said.

The five-day expo concluded Saturday with a trade volume hitting 1.654 billion U.S. dollars, up 3.8 percent from a year ago. A total of 136 cross-border cooperation projects were signed, with a combined value of 6.44 billion U.S. dollars, up 1.19 percent from the previous expo.

Among Chinese enterprises, 204 deals were reached, with a total investment of 61.85 billion yuan, up 1.05 percent from a year ago.

These figures were compared with trade volume of one billion U.S. dollars and cross-border investment of 4.97 billion U.S. dollars at the first four-day expo in Nanning in 2004.

The expo was initiated by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the 7thChina-ASEAN summit in 2003, in a bid to promote the establishment of CAFTA and common prosperity of both sides, winning wide support from leaders of the ASEAN countries.

Lao Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh said the continuous success of China-ASEAN Expos further strengthened strategic partnership between China and member states of ASEAN.

HEAD FOR THE FUTURE

The 7th China-ASEAN Expo, with the theme of free trade area and new opportunities, will be held in Nanning from Oct. 20 to 24, 2010. Initial fruits of the CAFTA from its first 10-month operation are expected to be top topics at the expo.

The CAFTA will conduct zero-tariff policy on 90 percent of products traded between China and ASEAN, while the service trade market between the two sides will be opened in a substantial way

"The CAFTA is a significant milestone in regional economic cooperation, which marks that trade ties between China and ASEAN are to enter a new stage," Li Keqiang, China's Vice Premier, said at the opening ceremony of the expo on Oct. 20.

To embrace the new starting point, China and ASEAN reached a series of agreements for further cooperation on agriculture, finance, and customs.

Experts said enhanced ties between customs authorities of China and ASEAN would facilitate bilateral trade and that on finance would ensure smooth trade exchanges.

Wang Yuzhu, assistant researcher with the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said agreements achieved between China and ASEAN would ensure the establishment and smooth operation of the CAFTA.

"The official establishment of the CAFTA would bring the China-ASEAN cooperation to a new stage, and the two sides should take more actions in detailed operation and the establishment of a solid footing for further cooperation," said Xu Ningning, executive secretary general of China-ASEAN Business Council.

Source:Xinhua
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