China and ASEAN to Expand Co-op in 10th CAEXPO
    2013-09-03 09:11:00     CRIENGLISH.com         Web Editor: Mao Yaqing

This year's ASEAN-China Expo is set to officially get underway later on this morning in Guangxi's capital, Nanning.

AS CRI's Marc Cavigli reports, economic cooperation is set to be the main talking point at this year's session.


 

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the China-ASEAN Expo, and the year also happens to mark the tenth anniversary of China- ASEAN Strategic Partnership.

China and ASEAN inked a free trade agreement back in 2002, with effect in 2010 when China implemented zero tariffs upon over 90% of ASEAN commodities.

Since then, the bilateral trade has expanded from over 54 billion U.S. dollars in 2002 to 400 billion last year, with an average annual growth rate of 22 percent.

Earlier, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced that China and ASEAN are slated to upgrade their free trade area by accelerating regional economic integration and further opening up markets.

Against such backdrop, this year's China-ASEAN Expo is offering new services to boost regional cooperation.

Wang Lei is the Deputy Secretary of the China-ASEAN Expo Committee.

"In terms of the scope of trade, instead of focusing on commodities trading, we are expanding to investment, technical exchange and service industry such as tourism. So the expo is designed to provide a comprehensive platform for trade.

Meanwhile, we are also expanding our regional cooperation. This year, China started talks on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP with countries including Australia and New Zealand. So we have invited representatives from countries other than ASEAN members to boost border cooperation. "

The RCEP is an initiative to link the ten ASEAN member states and the bloc's free trade partners including China, Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

As an effort to engaging future RCEP members in the expo, Australia is invited to this year's event as an observer.

Julie-Anne Nichols is the Deputy Consul-General of Australian Consulate-General in Guangzhou.

"This is something very new to Australia. For example, I have been invited as an observer for the Australian government to come and to understand what the Expo is about. What China and ASEAN do through this trading. So after this trip, we hope you will see more Australian companies here in Guangxi. China is Australia's number one trading partner, so of course the Australian government is committed to continuing a very fruitful and expanding relationship with China. "

Australia will host the second round of negotiations for RCEP later this month.

Talks among the 16 nations over RCEP began in early 2013 and are scheduled to conclude by the end of 2015.

Once completed, the grouping which has a combined GDP of about 17 trillion US dollars, will account for about 40 percent of world trade.

For CRI, I'm Marc Cavigli.

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