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China-ASEAN Expo becomes an important platform for promoting closer bilateral economic ties

Source: CGTN | 2023-09-17
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China-ASEAN Expo becomes an important platform for promoting closer bilateral economic ties

By Yu Hong

The 20th China-ASEAN Expo opens on September 17, 2023. The year 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the strategic partnership between China and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the China-ASEAN Expo. This gives special significance to this year's China-ASEAN Expo.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang will deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 20th China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Nanning, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, on September 17. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet, Laotian Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, Indonesia's Vice President Ma'ruf Amin, Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai, and ASEAN Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn will also attend the opening ceremony.

China has maintained its position as ASEAN's largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years, and the two sides have been each other's largest trading countries for three consecutive years since 2020. With the release of the dividends of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) implementation, the construction of the upgraded China-ASEAN Free Trade Area has been further advanced, and the status of China and ASEAN as each other's largest trading partners has been further consolidated. China has become an important foreign investor for the ASEAN countries in recent years.

The China-ASEAN Expo is an important and inclusive cooperation platform for both sides. ASEAN Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn said that over the past 20 years, the China-ASEAN Expo has been an important platform mechanism to actively promote trade, investment and tourism between ASEAN and China.

Benefiting from the China-ASEAN Expo and the related business summits, the economic cooperation between the ASEAN countries and China has expanded from mechanized trade and investment to international production capacity cooperation, finance, digital economy, health, tourism, and education among other areas. The bilateral collaboration between the two sides is comprehensive.

The expo has become a booster for the construction of the China-ASEAN free trade area (FTA). In the previously held China-ASEAN Expos, more than 1.1 million merchants participated in the exhibition.

The expo provides opportunities and channels for the ASEAN countries to expand the export of characteristic and advantageous products to China, expand trade and open up new markets. It will be helpful to contribute to the more balanced development of bilateral trade between China and ASEAN.

With the annual China-ASEAN Expo and the implementation of the China-ASEAN FTA upgrade protocol, the volume of bilateral trade in goods between China and ASEAN will further increase in the future. Digital economy, finance, logistics and telecommunication services will become new growth points for boosting bilateral trade in the future.

The pandemic has greatly changed cross-border trade patterns and consumer habits, and online trade and consumption have become more popular, which has also promoted the vigorous development of e-commerce in China and ASEAN countries. After RCEP is officially implemented, it will bring greater convenience and new market opportunities to further promote the growth of cross-border e-commerce. With the economic growth of ASEAN countries, Internet popularity, and the expansion of the middle class, the size of ASEAN's digital economy is expected to exceed $1 trillion by 2030.

The 20th China-ASEAN Expo is expected to have more than 40 participating countries and nearly 1,700 exhibitors. For ASEAN countries, the expo is an important event for promoting trade, investment, products and tourism, which will help strengthen economic and trade interaction between ASEAN countries and China and other regional countries, and further explore the opportunities brought by the implementation of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area and the RCEP implementation.

In the 20th China-ASEAN Expo, it is expected to attract about 640 exhibitors from ASEAN countries. These companies will bring ASEAN-made biscuits, coffee, cocoa and chocolate products, fruit juice drinks, condiments and other special foods to the expo. The attendees will also spot fashion supplies, jewelry, health and beauty, home decoration and other special goods from ASEAN countries.

For example, 120 Vietnamese enterprises will participate in the expo, including agricultural products, aquatic products, processed foods, household utensils, textiles and clothing, wood products and handicrafts. 23 Singaporean enterprises will participate in the exhibition and more than 70 investment and trade promotion activities will be held.

As the sidelines of the expo, the Investment Cooperation Roundtable, ASEAN Industrial Park Investment Conference and Project Matchmaking Conference, a special event on "Invest in China Year – Enter Guangxi" among other events will be held to deepen the economic, trade and investment cooperation between China and the ASEAN countries.

Yu Hong, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, is a senior research fellow of the East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore. 

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