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CAEXPO puts spotlight on global commerce

By YUAN SHENGGAO (China Daily)

Updated: 2023-09-15

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The Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Center. CHINA DAILY

The China-ASEAN Expo, first held in 2004 in Nanning, capital city of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, has become a prominent platform to promote communication, economic and trade cooperation and people-to-people exchanges between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.

Since then, the expo, also known as CAEXPO, has become one of the most influential trade events in the world, attracting significant attention from government officials, businesses and academic institutions. According to official figures, a total of 182 Chinese and foreign countries' leaders have visited CAEXPOs over the years, along with more than 3,700 ministerial officials.

At each CAEXPO, an array of exchange activities such as an opening ceremony, leaders' meetings, ministerial-level consultation, Country of Honor activities and talks between officials and business leaders have been arranged to promote exchanges of views and pool consensus. So far, nearly 100 documents like the Nanning Declaration have been released, which have enhanced strategic mutual trust and promoted the in-depth development of China-ASEAN friendly relations.

The expo, which has attracted approximately 1.1 million exhibitors and buyers over the past 19 years, has played a pivotal role in the development of the China-ASEAN free trade area. This event has been instrumental in driving the upgrade of the China-ASEAN FTA from Version 1.0 to 2.0, and now pushing toward Version 3.0. Additionally, it has significantly contributed to China and ASEAN becoming each other's primary trading partner and fostering a dynamic two-way investment partnership.

In recent years, the expo has extended its service range and influence from "10+1 countries", which are China and the 10 ASEAN member countries, to Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership countries and those involved in the Belt and Road Initiative. It has promoted the high-quality implementation of RCEP agreements by establishing the Special Partner Country mechanism, holding an RCEP Economic and Trade Cooperation Summit Forum and organizing events, such as Japanese and Korean Enterprises' Journey to Guangxi.

It has hosted Belt and Road Initiative-themed activities and set up a BRI pavilion as part of its efforts to enhance policy coordination, infrastructure connection, free trade, monetary circulation and people-to-people exchanges among BRI-related countries.

Nanning, as the permanent host city of CAEXPO, has witnessed the expansion and success of the trade fair. The Nanning Channel was also formed in recognition of Nanning's role in supporting the event. Key strategic projects like the China-ASEAN Information Harbor and a batch of important mechanisms and organizations like the China-ASEAN Multi-Modal Transport Alliance Service Center were thus put in place in the city. A series of people-to-people exchange activities were carried out, which have consolidated the foundation for future cooperation.

The annual trade event also showcases the development and potential of Guangxi to the whole world.

Benefiting from CAEXPO, Guangxi Beibu Gulf Economic Zone has been upgraded and its development has become part of national strategy. A batch of major mechanisms and projects in Guangxi, like the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, have been accelerated. The construction of Pinglu Canal, a century project, has also started. According to statistics, ASEAN has been Guangxi's largest trading partner for 23 years.

Looking ahead, CAEXPO will enhance its service and support regional development. It will strive to be one of the best platforms that serves the dual-circulation development pattern, creates business opportunities and represents a super symbol of the harmonious relationship between China and ASEAN.