China / Society

Yunnan looks to boost trade with neighbors

By Li Yingqing and Guo Anfei in Kunming (China Daily) Updated: 2013-01-24 03:31

If you live on a mountain, you live off the mountain; if you live by the water, you live off the water.

So goes a Chinese saying to describe the importance of geographic resources.

For Li Jiheng, governor of Southwest China's Yunnan province, the best resource his province boasts is its geographic proximity and South Asia and Southeast Asia.

"Yunnan is a gateway to the region," Li said. "Promoting trade and business relations with our southern neighbors has proven, and will continue, to be a major driver of the province's growth."

Yunnan borders Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, and is the Chinese province closest to the Indian Ocean.

Its trade stood at $21 billion last year, an increase of 31 percent from the previous year. Trade with regional countries, partly through border transactions, contributed greatly to its total foreign trade, Li said, without giving specific figures.

A closer economic relationship with its southern neighbors will help Yunnan achieve a series of economic goals, Li said.

The province aims to double its GDP, compared with the 2012 level, to more than $2 trillion by the end of 2017, and it wants to double people's incomes and reduce the poor population by at least 5 million by then. The province has the second-largest number of poor people among all China's provinces, 10.14 million at the end of 2011.

"To achieve these goals, we must accelerate economic growth by reaching out to neighboring countries," Li said.

The first China-South Asia Expo will be held in the provincial capital, Kunming, from June 6 to 10, and that will be a golden opportunity for businesses to link up, the governor said.

Eight countries — India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan and the Maldives — have signed up for the event.

Pakistan's acting ambassador to China, Zahoor Ahmed, said the expo offers a chance for Pakistani companies to display their products.

"Kunming is China's gateway to South Asia, and can play an important role in promoting regional trade for mutual benefit", he said.

Kunming intends to make the expo an annual event.

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