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More than 2,000 companies participate in 7th China-ASEAN Expo

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NANNING, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- More than 2,000 enterprises from home and abroad are taking part in the 7th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO), which opened here Tuesday in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The event has a total of 4,600 exhibition booths, all for exhibitors from China and the ten nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which 1,178 booth are for ASEAN participating companies.

Many of the participants were buoyed by the zero-tariff framework under the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA), which was established on Jan. 1 this year.

Angel Lam, a senior representative of the ASEAN Secretariat, said at a press briefing Tuesday that CAFTA has finally become reality after years of efforts and ASEAN countries hoped to further exchanges and promote cooperation with China in the fields of transport, education, science and technology, as well as sports through the CAEXPO platform.

With a population of 1.9 billion, CAFTA is the world's first free trade area established among developing countries and the world's third largest FTA in terms of trade volume, only after the North American FTA and the European FTA.

Representing the first free trade area agreement signed by China, CAFTA will provide zero tariffs on 90 percent of products traded between China and ASEAN and other favorable policies on trade and investment.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The six-day CAEXPO has the theme "CAFTA and New Opportunities" and will host 10 high-level forums on financial, agriculture, electricity, law and medicine.

Jia Guoyong, deputy director of Trade and Development of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOC), told the press briefing on CAEXPO that the accumulative investment between China and ASEAN reached 69.4 billion U.S. dollars by the end of June this year.

ASEAN has become China's third largest importing market and the fourth largest exporting market as China-ASEAN trade topped 185.38 billion U.S. dollars in the first eight months of this year, according to MOC statistics.

During the January-August period, China's imports from ASEAN jumped 54.4 percent year on year to 97.31 billion U.S. Dollars, while its exports to ASEAN rose 40 percent year on year to 88.07 billions U.S. dollars, resulting a trade deficit of 9.23 billion U.S. dollars.

CAEXPO was initiated by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the 7th China-ASEAN summit in 2003, in a bid to promote the establishment of CAFTA and common prosperity.

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