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His Excellency U Win Myint, President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar addresses the opening ceremony of the 17th China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit via video

Statement by His Excellency U Win Myint, 
President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar 
at the Opening Ceremony of the 17th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (CABIS) 
(Video Message, 27 November 2020) 
Theme: Building the Belt and Road, Strengthening Digital Economy Cooperation
His Excellency Xi Jinping, 
President of the People’s Republic of China 
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, 
It is my pleasure to deliver statement at the opening ceremony of the 17th China-ASEAN Expo, albeit by video. 
Today, the world is grappling with the COVID-19 health crisis which has brought profound changes to our way of life. However, we are happy to see that the pandemic has not prevented the annual CAEXPO from taking place this year. We would like to congratulate China on the successful hosting of the 17th China-ASEAN Expo despite the unprecedented challenges posed by the global pandemic. 
I am confident that the 17th CAEXPO will continue to serve as an important platform for exploring to strengthen the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership particularly through trade, investment, and people to people linkages.
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, 
The theme of the 17th CAEXPO: Building the Belt and Road, Strengthening Digital Economy Cooperation is most timely and relevant as we have designated 2020 as the “Year of ASEAN-China Digital Economy Cooperation”. 
Digital economy is an important segment of sustainable development, especially at a time when we are becoming increasingly reliant on digital technology for communication, education, health care, trade, investment, stock exchange, and other forms of business activities in the face of challenges posed by the global pandemic. 
ASEAN Member States and China have established connections through various means, including digitalisation. But given the different levels of digital economy development among us, we will need to strengthen cooperation in digital infrastructure. I believe narrowing the development gap in this particular area will improve internet access for all, thereby contributing towards the promotion of a digital economy. 
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, 
China remains an important and reliable partner of ASEAN, and our partnership has gradually expanded covering a wide range of areas contributing to peace, stability and prosperity in the region. 
Myanmar welcomes China’s proposed initiatives to strengthen the ASEAN-China partnership, including the elevation of the ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations from Strategic Partnership to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and the designation of the year 2021 as “ASEAN-China Year of Sustainable Development Cooperation”. 
Myanmar appreciates China’s active participation in ASEAN-led mechanisms and its significant contributions towards ASEAN Community Building efforts and the ASEAN integration process. 
I am happy to see that ASEAN-China economic relations continue to thrive. China remains ASEAN’s largest trading partner and the third largest external source of foreign direct investment (FDI) flows. 
It is encouraging that total merchandise trade between ASEAN and China reached $ 507.9 billion dollar in 2019 accounting for 18% of ASEAN’s total trade while the FDI flows from China to ASEAN amounted to $ 9.1 billion dollar in 2019 accounting for 5.7% of ASEAN’s total FDI1. 
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA), and I would like to encourage the full implementation of the “ASEAN-China Free Trade Area” and the its Upgrading Protocol to contribute our effort to achieve the twin goals of two-way trade volume of $1 trillion dollar and investments of $150 billion dollars by the end of this year. 
I believe that the RCEP would also provide a solid foundation for an open, inclusive, and rules-based global trade environment. 
While maintaining the positive momentum and taking advantage of our robust economic cooperation, we should work closely and find practical ways of enhancing our cooperation in synergizing common priorities identified in the ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity (MPAC) 2025, and the China’s Belt and Road Initiative. 
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, 
This year also marks a significant milestone in the bilateral relations between Myanmar and China as we jointly celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. The visit of President Xi Jinping to Myanmar in January this year has further strengthened our existing bonds of friendship and expanded mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries. 
During the State visit, we agreed, inter alia, to work together towards building “Myanmar-China Community with a Shared Future” and expanding multi-faceted cooperation including Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) Projects. 
We believe that the BRI projects selected in line with our national plan and priorities will contribute to our endeavors for the improvement of much needed infrastructure that will not merely enhance domestic connectivity but also improve cross-border connectivity. 
I firmly believe that implementing BRI projects to the mutual benefit of our two countries and strengthening digital economy cooperation will contribute to the creation of job opportunities and promotion of trade and investments, thereby mitigating the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
I wish the 17th China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit every success. 
Thank you. 
CAEXPO Secretariat 2020-11-27 15:24:17