China-ASEAN Expo to create new opportunities for regional growth
The four-day expo themed "Sharing RCEP New Opportunities, Building a Version 3.0 China-ASEAN Free Trade Area," will last till Monday as this year marks the first year of implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Malaysian companies from various sectors including food, health and services join this year's expo and look forward to building strong and lasting business relations with Chinese companies, Mohd Mustafa Abdul Aziz, chief executive officer of the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation said at a seminar held before the China-ASEAN Expo.
So far, the 19th China-ASEAN Expo has attracted a total of 1,653 enterprises to its offline event. Meanwhile, the online expo has attracted the participation of more than 2,000 enterprises.
"It's my third time in Nanning to participate in the expo, and the exhibition is very lively," said Caroline Ong, a Filipino businesswoman who brought her skincare products to the expo.
She told Xinhua that the expo provides a good platform for promoting cross-border cooperation and she hopes to introduce more high-quality products into the Chinese market through other platforms such as the China International Import Expo and the China International Fair for Trade in Services.
Trung Nguyen Legend, a leading Vietnamese coffee company, has attended the Expo consecutively since the first China-ASEAN Expo held in 2004. "China is one of our most important overseas markets," said Li Wuqiang, sales director of the Shanghai office of the company.
Statistics show that the China-ASEAN Expo has attracted about 1.015 million merchants worldwide over the past 18 years. ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi said that the China-ASEAN Expo has great significance in strengthening business networks and regional connectivity.
Malaysian International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Lim Ban Hong said the RCEP will create a more transparent, specific, rules-based framework for trade and investment.
"The harmonization of tariff concessions under RCEP will directly give a boost to trade and enhance regional integration in the region. It also provides opportunities for exporters to expand and diversify the outreach of their goods and services into more markets," he said.
Trade among RCEP countries has scored rapid growth. According to the General Administration of Customs of China, China's imports and exports with ASEAN increased by 14 percent year-on-year in the first eight months of this year. During the same period, China's imports and exports with the other 14 RCEP countries increased by 7.5 percent year-on-year.
RCEP countries share the preferential policies, jointly overcome the impact of the pandemic, thus improving facilitation for trade and investment, said Aksornsri Phanishsarn, an associate professor with the Faculty of Economics at Thammasat University in Thailand.
Teo Siong Seng, executive chairman of the Pacific International Lines in Singapore, said that the industries of RCEP countries are highly complementary, which will help expand inter-regional trade cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region and improve level of security, stability and openness of the regional industrial chain and supply chain.
He added that RCEP will become a key driving force for enhancing international economic and trade exchanges in the future.