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Expo crucial for boosting Sino-South Asian trade

By WANG KEJU | China Daily | Updated: 2024-07-10 09:28
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An exhibitor from Sri Lanka showcases his products during the China-South Asia Exposition in Kunming, Yunnan province in 2023. [LIU RANYANG/CHINA NEWS SERVICE]

The China-South Asia Exposition has emerged as a crucial catalyst for strengthening economic and trade activities between the world's second-largest economy and South Asian countries, and facilitating mutually beneficial partnerships driven by each other's strengths and resources, senior officials said on Tuesday.

The upcoming expo, the eighth edition since 2013, is set to start on July 23 and run until July 28 in Kunming, Southwest China's Yunnan province, said Vice-Minister of Commerce Li Fei at a news conference in Beijing.

China's position as the top trading partner for countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and others in the region has continued to strengthen, with a growing array of South Asian goods finding favor with Chinese consumers such as Pakistan's rice, Sri Lanka's tea, Maldives' seafood and Afghanistan's pine nuts, Li added.

The trade value between China and South Asian countries, according to data from Li's ministry, was nearly $200 billion in 2023, doubling from a decade ago.

This year's event aims to promote and explore the immense potential for cooperation in industries that align with the economic priorities of both China and South Asian countries, with special focuses on sectors such as green energy, modern agriculture, healthcare and cultural tourism, said Liu Yong, vice-governor of Yunnan province.

In particular, China and South Asian countries have demonstrated strong economic complementarity, with vast potential for cooperation in the digital and green economy sectors, officials said.

The mutual willingness to collaborate and the existing foundation for partnership bode well for the immense opportunities for joint efforts in these areas, said Wang Liping, director-general of Li's ministry's department of Asian affairs.

China and Pakistan, for instance, are working together to build a green economic corridor that promotes sustainable development and environmental protection. Additionally, Chinese companies have played an active role in Bangladesh's national data center, emphasizing the importance of nurturing local digital talent and contributing to narrowing the digital divide, Wang added.

The extensive cooperation between China and South Asian countries goes beyond the annual trade expo.

Going forward, China will improve its free trade agreements with South Asian countries, aiming to elevate the level of trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and unlock the untapped cooperation potential, Li said.

In addition, the two sides will enhance industrial policy exchanges and resource integration, so as to jointly construct a secure, efficient, open, inclusive and mutually beneficial regional industrial and supply chain, Li added.

So far, overseas representatives from 81 countries, regions and international organizations, as well as domestic participants from 27 provincial regions, have confirmed their attendance at the expo.

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