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ASEAN companies eye China for future growth

Source:   Time:

NANNING, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Companies from countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) look to China as a key source of customers and are working to expand their presence in the world's fastest-growing major economy.

At the ongoing 7th China-ASEAN Expo, hundreds of companies from ASEAN member states -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- are eager to showcase their goods and services to Chinese customers, hoping to look for investment and trade opportunities at the event.

"Our company recognizes big opportunities in China, especially after the establishment of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area this year," said Peter Paul, manager of the Lamoiyan Corporation of the Philippines, a personal care producer.

"If our products prove popular here, we will consider building plants in China," he added.

With a population of 1.3 billion, China remains one of the most attractive markets in the world, Peter Paul said. He also noted that his company should focus on high-end products and strengthen innovation to fight off competition from mass-market manufacturers and to make inroads into the already highly competitive Chinese market.

Biti's, Vietnam's best known manufacturer of durable footwear, attended the expo for the seventh year in a row.

"By virtue of the expos, our brand awareness has been raised among Chinese consumers," the company's vice manager, Lee Yungjie, said.

Also, the company's sales posted an annual growth of 30 percent in China. "If one out of every 100 people here buys a pair of shoes from us each year, our annual sales will hit 13 million pairs. Thus we see great potential here," Lee said.

Growing economic relations between China and ASEAN were reflected by expanding bilateral trade. From January to September, the two-way trade volume reached 211.3 billion U.S. dollars, up 44 percent year-on-year, an eye-catching growth as the world economy only begins to see a turnaround after the global financial crisis.

To further strengthen bilateral ties, China has proposed a 10-billion-U.S.-dollar infrastructure investment fund to improve roads, railways, airlines and information-telecommunication links between China and ASEAN countries. The country has also provided a 15-billion-U.S. dollar credit facility to promote regional integration and connectivity.

"We live at a time of accelerated adjustment in the international political and economic landscape and major opportunities in the development of Asia. The future and destiny of China and ASEAN countries are increasingly closely linked with each other," Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said Tuesday at the opening ceremony of the 7th China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit.

China's efforts to promote bilateral cooperation have been supported by leaders of ASEAN countries.

Boediono, Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, said at the opening function of the expo summit that for almost two decades, China has been a reliable partner and played an important role in many ASEAN's ventures. "Now, China presents more opportunities for ASEAN. Likewise, the prosperity and stability of ASEAN are also beneficial to China," he noted.

Also, ASEAN business people are expected to benefit from healthy bilateral economic ties and increased exports of food, fruits and textiles to China.

Pham Quangvu, director of Vietnamese Vinacafe Bien Hoa Joint Stock Co., a leading coffee producer, said China's growing demand for coffee would provide his company with great opportunities.

"I'm confident my business will expand further in China, given strengthened China-ASEAN relations, the huge Chinese market and the establishment of the China-ASEAN FTA, which assists in the customs clearance and reduces logistics costs," he said.

The six-day expo kicked off in Nanning Tuesday. It was the first gathering since the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, the world's largest FTA in terms of population, was established on January 1, 2010.

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