NANNING - Port companies from China and Southeast Asian countries inked agreements to strengthen cooperation at the fifth Pan-Beibu Gulf (PBG) Economic Cooperation Forum which closed here on Friday, as part of the efforts to construct the PBG logistics network.
These agreements, signed by Guangxi Beibu Gulf International Port Group with Haikou Port, Guangzhou Port Group, China Shipping Container Lines Co Ltd, Singapore's IMC Shipping Services, Yulang Port, Thailand-listed Regional Container Lines (RCL) and Cambodia's Sihanoukville Port, aimed to promote cooperation by launching new routes, boosting port storage and cargo transportation facilities.
The government of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region planned to earmark 6 billion yuan ($886 million) this year to support 26 port construction projects in the region, said Pan Wei, director-general of the Guangxi Communications Department at the Forum.
By the end of 2012, the Beibu Gulf port throughput is set to exceed 300 million tons, which is three times more than that in 2009, Pan said.
The robust international trade and investment development within the PBG Economic Cooperation Zone has overwhelmed the current logistics system in the region, said Li Shaode, president of China Shipping Group.
The trade volume between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reached $136.5 billion in the first half of the year, up by 55 percent year-on-year, making the ASEAN China's fourth biggest trading partner, said Yi Xiaozhun, vice minister of commerce, while speaking at the Forum.
ASEAN's actual annual investment in China grew from $2.9 billion in 2003 to $4.7 billion in 2009. During the same period, China's investment in ASEAN registered a 13-fold increase from $230 million to $3 billion.
With the opening of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) on January 1, more than 90 percent, or over 7,000 products traded between China and the six members of ASEAN, including Brunei, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, have become tariff-free.
As of the end of June, the cumulative investments reached about $69.4 billion, with ASEAN investing $59.8 billion in China and China investing $9.6 billion in ASEAN.
Further, the PBG Economic Cooperation provides a new platform for regional economic integration, Yi said.
Fong Yuekwong, president of Singapore's Yulang Port, said he saw great potential to make profits in port cooperation in the long run, since the market demand is steadily increasing in the PBG region.
The logistics companies in the PBG region should join hands to optimize the industry chain and to integrate the international logistics businesses for pushing forward the region's logistics network and promote efficiency, Li said.
The PBG economic cooperation Forum has been held annually in Nanning since 2006, capital city of southwestern China's Guangxi.
The PBG Economic belt is an area surrounded by south China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Guangdong and Hainan provinces, as well as the six ASEAN members including Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Brunei.
The other members of the 10-nation group are Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
Guangxi Beibu Gulf International Port Group includes the ports of Fangchenggang, Beihai and Qinzhou. The total annual throughput of these ports increased by 16.3 percent year-on-year to touch 94 million tons in 2009.