NANNING, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) — The ongoing 17th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) has significantly deepened regional cooperation and will further facilitate free trade following the signing of the landmark Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s biggest trade pact, senior officials and businessmen from the ASEAN countries have said.
The expo, held from Nov. 27 to 30 in Nanning, capital city of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, features a “Belt and Road” exhibition area, online trade and investment promotion activities, as well as high-level dialogues to promote the greater participation of the RCEP members in the construction of the Belt and Road.
“The CAEXPO represents a platform, and we can further deepen the cooperation and further increase the trade volume so that we can maintain this trajectory of closer economic and trade cooperation,” said Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana.
“This is a significant opportunity to deepen the cooperation particularly in trade and economy between China and the Philippines,” he added.
The ambassador also noted that the RCEP means bigger trading opportunities. “It also (helps) streamline the trading rules of different countries. All of this will contribute to more trade, more development and more improvement in people’s livelihood,” he stressed.
Zeng Jingsong, vice president of the Bangkok-based Charoen Pokphand Group, also hailed the CAEXPO as a key platform that brings more and more opportunities for cooperation and communication, and allows various enterprises to establish partnership in the region.
“Besides, I also believe that the platform facilitates exchanges among governments and enterprises on their understanding of each other’s markets, business strategies and development policies,” he added.
The CAEXPO has brought a host of opportunities to Singaporean companies particularly in the fields of infrastructure, trade and logistics to tap into markets in southeast Asia, said Low Boon Tian, chairman of the SingCham Guangxi Management Committee.
“As China’s reform and opening-up keep deepening, I believe more and more Singaporean companies will increase investment in China, especially as the country’s business environment has got improved a lot,” he added.
The annual CAEXPO, a concrete fruit of the China-ASEAN cooperation, has played a vital role in strengthening the China-ASEAN relationship, said Benjamas Tanvetyanont, consul general of Thailand in Nanning.
“This year’s expo is held both online and offline. I hope those online and offline events will help spur (regional) economic recovery. In particular, as this year’s expo highlights digital economy, online exhibitions will also help enterprises in the region find more business opportunities,” she noted.
She also mentioned that the robust trade volume between China and ASEAN so far this year is a testament to the enormous growth potential between the two sides, especially in trade and investment.
In the first 10 months of the year, China-ASEAN bilateral trade volume reached 3.79 trillion yuan (about 571.64 billion U.S. dollars), accounting for 14.6 percent of China’s foreign trade, up 7 percent from the same period last year, according to the General Administration of Customs.
Ambassador Romana also praised this year’s online expo as “an example of how to conduct a trade expo amid the (COVID-19) pandemic,” saying it shows China’s confidence in being capable of containing the virus and proceeding with the trade expo to promote economic recovery at the same time.
In this regard, Dino R. Kusnadi, minister of Indonesian embassy in China, spoke highly of the digital Silk Road, which he believes will be “a solid base” for mutually beneficial cooperation between China and ASEAN. Such a new mechanism is needed to boost the China-ASEAN relations to be sustainable and grow further, he noted.