Pedestrians take photographs of a decoration for the 17th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, capital of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. [Photo by YU XIANGQUAN/FOR CHINA DAILY]
President Xi Jinping on Friday addressed the opening ceremony of the 17th China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit via video.
The annual expo, and the business and investment summit between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is held in Nanning, capital city of South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
China and ASEAN are poised to explore more trade and investment opportunities and a higher level of economic partnership with the hosting of the 17th China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit starting on Friday, officials and experts said.
China's decision to host the expo and summit as scheduled and Xi's speech fully indicate China's firm resolve to pursue opening up at a higher level and to continue to promote economic and trade cooperation with ASEAN, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a news briefing on Thursday.
Zhao hailed the progress made in China-ASEAN economic and trade ties in the 10 years since the establishment of the China-ASEAN free trade zone.
Bilateral trade volume has more than doubled over the past 10 years, from $292.8 billion in 2010 to $641.5 billion in 2019, with the bloc becoming China's largest trading partner for the first time this year.
"Through the hosting of the events, China is willing to further enhance trade and economic cooperation with ASEAN, promote the upgrading of bilateral ties, enable more breakthroughs in regional economic integration and head toward a fresh outburst of energy in the next 10 years," he said.
Experts have highlighted the significance of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, signed among China, ASEAN and another four countries this month, in further unleashing the growth potential of trade and investment.
"China and ASEAN are complementary partners in trade and investment, and the economic and trade cooperation between the two sides has evolved to be fairly comprehensive over the years," said Wei Jianguo, vice-chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.
The recently signed RCEP, which aims to cut tariffs, further open markets and lower barriers to liberalize trade and investment, is set to stimulate trade and investment and further integrate the regional market, he said.
Ke Liangdong, vice-chairman of the Beijing-headquartered China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said the RCEP has the characteristics of gradual, inclusive and open cooperation, which can give China and ASEAN a certain degree of policy adjustment space to better achieve win-win results.
"With a view to contributing to an early economic recovery in the region, China and ASEAN will continue working closely on the economic front in the next level of partnership, addressing the issues faced by businesses of both sides and further diversifying their economic and development cooperation," he said.
Cui Fan, an international trade and economics professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said the deepening of economic and trade ties between China and ASEAN reflected the common interests of countries involved and helped ensure the stability of the free trade system and regional peace.
"Trade and economic cooperation between China and ASEAN is set to further move forward with the development of initiatives such as the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road," he said.