A proposed group of government and business leaders will
strengthen economic and trade ties between China and the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a top local
The proposal was put forward by officials from southwest China's
Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Liu Qibao, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region
Party Secretary, yesterday described the proposal as "one of the
most important measures" to further trade and economic cooperation
in the Pan-Beibu Bay region.
The bay region, which is part of the China-ASEAN Free Trade
Area, includes China, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Singapore and Vietnam.
During the Pan-Beibu Bay Economic Cooperation Forum, which
opened yesterday in Nanning, Guangxi's capital city, Liu said the
proposed group should consist of leading government officials and
business leaders from countries surrounding the Pan-Beibu Bay.
"Countries surrounding the bay, the China Development Bank and
the Asian Development Bank have all expressed support for the
proposal," Liu said.
By providing advice on big cooperative projects between China
and the other member countries, the high-level group will play a
central role in fostering Pan-Beibu Bay economic cooperation, Liu
"Details for the establishment of the group are still being
discussed by representatives of the involved countries and
organizations. We believe the talks will finish soon since we are
all aware of how important the group is," Liu said.
Liu also called yesterday for the establishment of a mechanism
to allow the governments of the countries surrounding the Beibu Bay
to coordinate their activities.
China has developed stronger trade relations with the Pan-Beibu
Bay countries thanks to their geographical proximity, Liu said.
Last year, China's trade volume with the six Pan-Beibu Bay
countries totaled $131 billion, accounting for 81.3 percent of the
country's trade with ASEAN members, Liu said.
Liu said China will sign an economic cooperative framework with
the six other countries.
"Under the framework, we will first look forward to cooperative
projects in some key industrial areas, for example port cluster
construction," Liu said.
Guangxi, which is seen as a gateway to Southeast Asia, is the
only region in Southwest China that has three port cities: Beihai,
Qinzhou and Fangchenggang.
"Cooperation in harbor construction with the Pan-Beibu Bay
countries will help develop logistics and attract more
foreign-oriented companies," Liu said.
Fredric Tsao, chairman of the IMC Group in Singapore, said his
company will soon sign agreements for three port projects with
"All these projects will be located in the port cities. We have
seen a huge market potential here," said Tsao, who added that the
company is also planning to invest in area's tourism sector.
(China Daily July 27, 2007)