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China and ASEAN trade reaches new high
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The Fourth China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) came to a close on Wednesday in Nanning, with a total trade transaction of US$1.42 billion, up 12.1 percent compared with the previous session.

"With the efforts of both China and the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Fourth China-ASEAN Expo has proved a great success", said Li Jinzao, deputy director of the expo organizing committee, at a press conference following the event.

A number of high-rank officials attended the expo and the business summit, including Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia Hun Sen, Crown Prince of Brunei Al-Muhtadee Bolkiah, as well as Bouasone Bouphavanh, prime minister of the Laos, Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Tan Dung, and Ong Keng Yong, ASEAN secretary-general.

In all, more than 183 ministers from China and ASEAN attended the fair, followed by their governments and trade missions.

The Fourth China-ASEAN Expo featured 3,400 booths and attracted more than 1,908 enterprises and over 8,200 businesspeople from China, the ASEAN and other countries and regions.

The number of purchasers was 8 per cent higher than at the previous edition of the event, while the number of foreign purchasers increased 6.3 percent from last year.

In addition, 1,400 representatives attended the business summit, said Li.

Trade in mechanical equipment stood at US$650 million, accounting for 45 percent of the total transaction volume, followed by trade in agricultural products worth US$150 million, building materials worth US$140 million, and electronic products worth US$100 million.

A total of 182 contracts for overseas investment projects, amounting to US$6.154 billion, were signed at the expo, a 5.28-percent growth compared with last year.

Contracts for domestic investment projects signed at the expo numbered 138. The projects involve US$58.214 billion in investment, up 5.13 percent compared with last session.

This year's expo focused on exploring a coordination mechanism to create a more business-friendly environment for further cooperation, laying a solid foundation for future expos and summits, Li said.

The expo has set up a platform for close links among China, ASEAN members and other countries and regions, and provided more trade opportunities.

"The Fourth China-ASEAN Expo, one of the main business events this year between China and the ASEAN, has promoted trade and investment, and enhanced mutual communication and understanding among people from China and the ASEAN," said Nicholas T. Dammen, ASEAN deputy secretary-general.

Major forums during the expo focusing on port development and food safety attracted the attention of both Chinese and foreign participants.

The China-ASEAN Port Development and Cooperation Joint Declaration was signed during the expo to drive up regional trade.

The Nanning Joint Statement was also released to strengthen collaboration on food safety at the China-ASEAN Ministerial Conference on Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine Forum held during the expo.

"Efforts to strengthen food safety cooperation are expected to improve the quality of food products and benefit the 1.8 billion people in the region," the statement said.

ASEAN will spare no efforts to support the next China -ASEAN Expo and expects a more successful and more exciting event in 2008, Nicholas T. Dammen added.

The event in Nanning, the capital of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, received great attention from international media, with 1,106 reporters from 171 media organizations attending the press conference. The majority of newspersons were from ASEAN countries.

(China Daily November 3, 2007)

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