China’s State Council Information Office recently held a press conference on China-ASEAN economic cooperation and trade and the 17th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (CABIS).
Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Commerce of China Li Chenggang, Vice Chairman of CCPIT Zhang Shaogang, and Vice Governor of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Zhou Hongbo, briefed journalists on the economic and trade cooperation between China and ASEAN as well as the highlights and preparations of the 17th China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit.
ASEAN, for the first time, has become China’s top trading partner, opening up bright prospects as China and ASEAN are now largest trading partners for each other.
According to Assistant Minister Li Chenggang, since the outbreak of COVID-19 earlier this year, economies around the world are grappling with growing downward pressure and shrinking international trade.
Against this backdrop, China and ASEAN members strived to minimise the impact of the epidemic and bucked the trend with good trade and economic cooperation.
First, growing bilateral trade. In response to COVID-19, China and ASEAN have opened fast-track lanes to facilitate personnel exchanges, and assisted each other with anti-virus supplies and medical equipment.
Both sides have contributed to regional economic recovery by restarting the economy as quickly as possible, keeping up the momentum in Belt and Road cooperation, enhancing connectivity, and maintaining the stability of industrial chains and value chains.
In the first eight months of this year, China-ASEAN trade reached US$416.55 billion, up by 3.8% year on year and accounting for 14.6% of China’s foreign trade.
Second, dynamic investment cooperation. In the first half of 2020, China’s investment in ASEAN amounted to US$6.23 billion, registering a significant year-on-year increase of 53.1 per cent and accounting for 76.7 per cent of China’s investment in countries along the Belt and Road.
Third, closer cooperation in the digital economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has stimulated the development of new sectors and new forms of businesses.
This year is the 10th anniversary of the China-ASEAN FTA.
With the theme “Building the Belt and Road, Strengthening Digital Economy Cooperation”, the physical exhibition of the 17th CAEXPO will be held on November 27-30; and “Cloud CAEXPO” (online exhibition) will be launched on November 27, with a permanent presence online and regular maintenance afterward.
Mr. Zhou Hongbo said the expo this time has the following four features. First, innovative approaches.
In response to the COVID-19, the CAEXPO and BIS will “go cloud” and hold both physical and online exhibitions.
To be specific, we will hold physical exhibition mainly participated by domestic participants and exhibitors and, in parallel, “Cloud CAEXPO” mainly joined by overseas participants and exhibitors.
The opening conference will be held both online and offline. Leaders from China, ten ASEAN countries and special partner Pakistan, will be invited to give speeches online, while the Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Center will be the main venue.
Second, many highlights. During the expo, a special forum on the 10th anniversary of the China-ASEAN FTA will be held, and three commemorative activities will be held to mark the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Thailand, the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Myanmar, and the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the Philippines.
To implement the Statement of the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the third China-ASEAN Health Cooperation Forum and sub-forums will be held.
The CAEXPO, committed to the overall epidemic prevention and control strategy focused on imported cases and rebound in local cases, will strengthen responsibilities of local governments, and formulate and implement an epidemic prevention and control work plan and emergency plan.
The upcoming CAEXPO will be a significant event held in the special year of COVID-19. All preparations are well underway.
The Bruneian | CHINA