The four-day First China-ASEAN Expo opened Wednesday in Nanning, the capital of southwest China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The event has attracted more than 1,500 companies from China, ASEAN member nations and other countries, including 19 companies from world's top 500.
More than 200 categories of products from 11 industries are on display, including machinery, consumer electrical and electronic goods, IT products, cars and related products, construction materials, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and textiles.
About 30 percent of the 2,506 exhibition booths are operated by companies from outside China. On the sidelines of the exposition, Chinese and ASEAN businesspeople, scholars and government officials will also attend the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit.
Just ahead of the opening, Vice Premier Wu Yi held meetings in Nanning on Tuesday with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Laotian Prime Minister Boungnang Vorachit and Myanmar Prime Minister Soe Win, who were in the city to attend the expo.
“The expo, originated by Premier Wen Jiabao, will offer a new platform for further developing cooperation between China and ASEAN countries in trade, investment, economy and technology, as well as in projects and labor sourcing,” Wu said.
The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations is planning to establish a free trade area with China by 2010, creating the third largest FTA in the world, with a population of more than 1.7 billion.
The Chinese government sees the expo as a means to promote negotiations on the free trade zone as well as to deepen its strategic partnerships and friendly ties with the ASEAN countries. It is the first time China is hosting an expo organized by the 11 countries.
ASEAN comprises Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.
From January to September this year, bilateral trade between China and ASEAN members reached US$75. 5 billion, up 35.6 percent year-on-year. The figure is expected to top US$100 billion for the full year.
(Xinhua News Agency November 3, 2004)