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Guangxi-ASEAN business ties to spur foreign trade

By Zhong Nan in Beijing and SHI RUIPEN | China Daily | Updated: 2023-04-14 09:18
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Launch ceremony of "Invest in China Year" (Embracing ASEAN) is held on April 7, 2023. [Photo by Huang Ke/Guangxi Daily]

The enriched business ties between South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will provide substantial support for China's foreign trade and supply chain operations in the Asia-Pacific region, said government officials and business experts.

Given its status as the "foothold" of China-ASEAN cooperation, Guangxi is expected to play a vital role in supporting the growth of various economic initiatives, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, they said.

Launched in 2017, the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor is a trade and logistics passage jointly built by provincial-level regions in western China and ASEAN members.

Despite multiple challenges facing the global economy, Guangxi's continued efforts to stimulate its real economy and deepen cooperation with the ASEAN are expected to yield positive results, said Wang Guowen, director of the center for logistics and supply chain management at the China Development Institute, a Shenzhen, Guangdong province-based think tank.

"These efforts will not only alleviate pressure on China's foreign trade this year but also ensure the smooth operations of industrial and supply chains in the Asia-Pacific region," he said.

To further explore growth opportunities in ASEAN markets, Liu Ning, Party secretary of Guangxi, led a delegation to visit Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia from March 30 to Saturday.

During the recent visit, the delegation from Guangxi inked a total of 38 economic and trade deals with local business partners in Vietnam. With a combined amount of 36.8 billion yuan ($5.35 billion), the agreements involve trade in goods, industrial cooperation, cross-border investment and other business fields, according to data released by Guangxi's regional government.

Similarly, the delegation signed 30 commercial agreements worth a total of 13.1 billion yuan in areas such as trade in services, logistics, shipping and port operations, with various parties in Singapore.

The delegation's visit to Malaysia was equally fruitful, resulting in 17 cooperation projects for economic and trade activities. With a total amount of 39.2 billion yuan, these business deals cover the trade and production of nonferrous and recycled metals, cross-border logistics operations and cold chain, green energy development and new materials for environmental protection.

"Guangxi is the forefront and window of China's opening-up and cooperation with ASEAN and RCEP countries," said Liu. "We are willing to work with all related parties to seize opportunities to develop the Belt and Road Initiative, advance preparations for the further enhancement of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA 3.0), and promote the in-depth implementation of the RCEP."

The official said that Guangxi will rely on platforms such as the China-ASEAN Expo and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor to further deepen cooperation in regional connectivity, economic and trade investment, industrial development and cultural exchanges with ASEAN countries to achieve win-win results.

Ong Tze Guan, chairman of the Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China, believes that China and Singapore will benefit from the multiplier effects brought by improved overall economic, trade and investment relations in the Asia-Pacific region.

As an important transit point in the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, more than 1.6 million twenty-foot equivalent units of containers were handled by Guangxi's Beibu Gulf Port in the first quarter of this year, up 14.7 percent year-on-year, data from the local government showed.

The 20th China-ASEAN Expo, which will be held in September in Nanning, Guangxi's regional capital, is expected to host commercial events and a series of high-level forums to comprehensively upgrade the high-level dialogue mechanism, and economic and trade effectiveness, said the Guangxi government.

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