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China-ASEAN Expo to spur regional cooperation

By Zhang Linwan | China Daily | Updated: 2022-09-17 14:45
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The 19th China-ASEAN Expo opens on Friday in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. WU ZHIYONG/FOR CHINA DAILY

The ongoing 19th China-ASEAN Expo will promote all-around regional cooperation and help create a conducive environment for regional economic recovery as well as long-term resilience, said foreign delegates at the event's opening ceremony on Friday in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

With a theme of "Sharing New Opportunities of the RCEP and Jointly Advancing Version 3.0 of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area", the major event will run through Monday. It is showcasing the achievements and highlights of cooperation between the two sides.

Wang Shouwen, vice-minister of commerce, said at the opening ceremony that 2022 marks the first year after China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations upgraded their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership, and it is also the first year since the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement took effect on Jan 1.

China will ensure the effective implementation of the RCEP and team up with ASEAN to improve the CAFTA while expanding cooperation in emerging industries such as the digital economy and green economy, Wang said.

Official data showed that China has remained ASEAN's largest trading partner for 13 consecutive years. During the first seven months of this year, their trade surged 13.1 percent year-on-year to $544.9 billion, accounting for 15 percent of China's total foreign trade during that period.

ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi said that joint efforts such as the CAEXPO are crucial to enhancing business networking and regional connectivity among enterprises, traders, and investors throughout the region.

"ASEAN and China are moving forward with a plan to review the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement to ensure it remains forward-looking, responsive to contemporary global challenges, and more importantly, relevant to businesses," Lim said.

This is a significant opportunity for the business community to re-imagine and transform strategies to stay competitive and stable, he added.

Senior officials from Singapore, South Korea, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam also delivered speeches at the opening ceremony.

Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat called on China and ASEAN to strengthen their partnership by enhancing connectivity and promoting the integrated development of the digital and green economy.

"We recently approved the Action Plan on Implementing ASEAN-China Partnership on Digital Economy Cooperation, as well as the 2022 ASEAN-China Digital Work Plan," he said, adding these are important first steps to build a strong foundation for a more digital and greener regional economy.

Thailand supports China's Global Development Initiative and stands ready to work with China to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which also complements the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, said Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai.

"We believe that these agendas can reinforce each other. Therefore, a strong partnership between ASEAN and China will be beneficial for their success," he said.

This year's expo occupies an area of 102,000 square meters, with exhibits from nearly 40 countries and regions worldwide.

In particular, the exhibition features ASEAN and RCEP boutique display areas for the first time, the organizers said. It also comprises several new displays for such industries as new energy vehicles, culture and tourism, healthcare and cross-border e-commerce.

A total of 1,653 enterprises set up booths at the exhibition including 311 Fortune Global 500 companies, while more than 2,000 exhibitors are attending the exhibition online.

Twenty-one high-level forums and more than 80 economic and trade promotion activities are taking place at the expo. These include the fifth China-ASEAN Information Harbor Forum on Friday and the fourth China-ASEAN Police Academic Forum on Saturday.

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