The 2nd China-ASEAN Expo opened today at Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Center in the capital of China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Vice President Zeng Qinghong declared it open, and Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai was also in attendance, as were Ong Keng Yong, secretary general of the ASEAN Secretariat, and many ASEAN leaders.
The presidents of ASEAN chambers of commerce, which had supported the organization of the expo, affixed a seal of cooperation at the ceremony, and Chinese and ASEAN leaders started the “Clock of Epoch” together.
Zeng told ASEAN trade and economic ministers yesterday that China's development would bring opportunities to their nations and that ASEAN’s prosperity accorded with China’s interests.
The expo, initiated by Premier Wen Jiabao at the 7th China-ASEAN Summit in Indonesia in 2003, is the only large-scale international exposition co-sponsored by the governments of China and the ten ASEAN nations as well as the ASEAN Secretariat. It is to be hosted annually in Nanning and is the only event in the region that deals with the proposed China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA).
Bilateral trade volume has seen large increases in recent years, especially since 2002. Between then and 2004, its average annual growth rate stood at 38.9 percent. In 2004, it reached US$105.9 billion, exceeding US$100 billion a year ahead of schedule.
From January to September this year, bilateral trade stood at US$94.54 billion, a year-on-year increase of 25.3 percent. ASEAN is now China's fifth largest export market and fourth largest trading partner.
Building on deepening bilateral trade and economic cooperation, China and ASEAN have been speeding up the process of establishing the CAFTA, toward which a tariff reduction program was implemented in July.
Once the CAFTA becomes a reality in 2010, it is set to be the largest FTA between developing countries, and the one with the largest population in the world. It could enable growth of 48 percent for ASEAN’s exports to China and of 55 percent for China’s exports to ASEAN, according to Chong Quan, Ministry of Commerce spokesperson, at a news briefing on Tuesday.
He said it could contribute 0.9 percent and 0.3 percent of ASEAN and China’s GDPs respectively, and would generate tremendous business opportunities and prospects for broad cooperation.
In a bid to facilitate the tariff reduction plan, the 2nd expo has been enlarged to address the demands of business communities to explore markets by utilizing opportunities generated by it.
Efforts have also been made to make the expo more specialized and more effective in promoting trade and facilitating project matching, and to provide considerate and high quality services to business people.
The four-day event has attracted nearly 2,000 companies from the region.
Its venue covers 60,000 square meters, 22 percent larger than that of the first expo, with four exhibition areas, themed by country promotion, trade in goods, investment cooperation and tourism.
The second expo prioritizes five categories of commodities, in which China-ASEAN trade has a big volume and enjoys great markets, and which can better reflects current trade and economic cooperation. They are: machinery and equipments, electronics and home appliances, hardware and construction materials, light industry products and handicrafts, agricultural and food products.
“Cities of Charm,” which comprises the major content of the country promotion area, aims to showcase the capitals and major cities of all 11 countries and deepen exchanges from national to city level. The featured cities are: Beijing, Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei, Siem Reap in Cambodia, Jakarta in Indonesia, Luang Prabang in Laos, Putrajaya in Malaysia, Mandalay in Myanmar, Sumpercat in the Philippines, Singapore City, Chiang Mai in Thailand and Hanoi in Vietnam.
The 2nd China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, themed "China and ASEAN: Opening and Exploring the Market," also runs from today to October 20 in Nanning. Chinese and foreign leaders will be invited to deliver speeches, and economic and trade ministers will conduct dialogue with entrepreneurs.
The 1st expo and summit were held in November last year, attracting 1,505 company representatives and over 20,000 individual participants and visitors. Deals worth a total of US$1.084 billion were made during the expo, including 129 foreign investment projects, which had a contractual value of US$4.968 billion.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Yuan Fang, October 19, 2005)