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Expo promotes cooperation in SE Asia

Updated: 2012-09-20 08:04
By Zhuan Ti ( China Daily)

 Expo promotes cooperation in SE Asia

Premier Wen Jiabao visits the exhibition venue during the eighth China-ASEAN Expo in 2011.

Since it was first held in 2004, the annual China-ASEAN Expo has become an important platform for friendly exchanges, business promotion and bilateral cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

This year's expo will be held in Nanning, capital of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, from Sept 21 to 25.

Effective platform

Specialization has always been a key feature of the event. During the seventh expo in 2010, a wood product exhibition was held, and a fruit exhibition was the highlight last year.

This year, an exhibition promoting coffee products from ASEAN member countries will debut at the expo. An investment conference for industrial parks in ASEAN member states will also take place, and a special zone has been set up, where representatives can illustrate the features of their industrial parks to potential investors.

The special themes have attracted a huge number of businesspeople in these fields to seek opportunities.

Specialization is the lifeline for trade fairs, and it is the development goal of the expo.

Mechanical equipment, electronic appliances, and construction materials from China are in high demand in ASEAN countries, while agricultural products, wood furniture and light industrial goods from ASEAN member countries are very popular in China.

At the same time, a series of forums with distinct themes will be held along with the trade fairs. Specialized forums on cooperation in transportation, agriculture and mining have paved the way for further contacts among businesspeople.

Political importance

The China-ASEAN Expo was first proposed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during a meeting with ASEAN leaders in October 2003. The premier's proposal generated positive responses from the ASEAN leaders, and the first expo was held in 2004.

Organized by the Guangxi government and co-sponsored by the ministries of commerce of China and 10 ASEAN members as well as the ASEAN Secretariat, the expo has grown into a grand international event for economic and trade exchanges.

Investment cooperation, commodities, and trade in services have been the three main focal points of the expo over the years.

In the eight years that the event has been held, the expo has achieved remarkable outcomes. Each year, a large group of senior officials have participated, making it an ideal platform for both sides to deepen understanding and exchange views.

A series of high-ranking meetings and forums have been held concurrently to enhance cooperation between China and the ASEAN.

Intensive political exchanges during the expo are also a key feature of the expo. Since the first expo in 2004, 42 State leaders, more than 1,500 ministerial-level officials and other distinctive guests from both sides have taken part.

Vice-President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony and some other important activities for the ninth China-ASEAN this year, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Sunday.

During last year's expo, Wen made positive remarks about relations between China and ASEAN when he met leaders of six countries in the region, including Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

China would like to work together with other countries to honor various agreements and promote new progress in bilateral relations, Wen said.

Developing a friendship with China is crucial to their nations and creates new prospects, Wen's counterparts said. They said they will promote mutually beneficial cooperation with China.

Investing in China's west

Western provinces in China have attached great importance to the expo, which is considered a gateway to tap into the ASEAN markets.

Business delegations from the provinces of Guizhou, Shaanxi and Hunan and the Ningxia Hui autonomous region now hold promotion meetings at the expo every year.

China and ASEAN should join hands to build the free trade zone, expand investment, deepen regional economic cooperation and increase exchanges, Wen said during last year's expo.

The Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, which hosts the expo, has also made breakthroughs in terms of its investment in the ASEAN member countries.

Guangxi Investment Group, a major investment arm of the Guangxi government, has found opportunities through the platform of the expo. The group now has a presence in many ASEAN member states and has invested in the fields of energy, electric power, mining in Vietnam and Indonesia.

Closer ties

China and ASEAN have formed closer relations since the expo was first established. Both sides have agreed to seek in-depth cooperation in the fields of agriculture, information industry, human resources, investment, development of the Mekong River, transportation, energy, culture, tourism, public health and environmental protection.

Notably, both sides have signed agreements on cooperation in many fields, such as intellectual property right protection and construction of network infrastructure in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Due to a batch of policies to boost tourism, Chinese tourists have become the most important source of revenue for ASEAN members. China is also the top choice for tourists from the ASEAN member states.

In the cultural field, Chinese publishers have benefited from an annual book fair held during the expo since 2008.

China-ASEAN friendly cooperation and relations will be enhanced in an all-round way in 2012, leaders have promised.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between ASEAN and China and also the Year of China-ASEAN Science and Technology Cooperation.

The 2012 expo aims to further enhance China-ASEAN cooperation in science, technology and other fields.

Senior officials from ministries of science and technology of both sides are expected to join a high-level meeting exploring the possibilities for cooperation in such fields as technology transfer.

There are also dozens of forums on financing, manufacturing, logistics and poverty reduction during the expo.

More than 300,000 businesspeople attended the past eight expos, and trade deals worth more than $11 billion were signed.

(China Daily 09/20/2012 page18)