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China-ASEAN Expo boosts economic cooperation, mutual trust

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Visitors walk into the Nanning International Exhibition Center, one of the venues of the 8th China-ASEAN Expo, in Nanning, capital of southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Oct. 26, 2011. The 6-day event, which attracted 2,300 enterprises from China and 11 ASEAN countries, closed on Wednesday, with a total transaction volume of 1.8 billion US dollars. (Xinhua/Zhou Hua)

NANNING, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- The eighth China-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Expo closed in the city of Nanning in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Wednesday, with economic ties and mutual trust greatly enhanced between China and the 10-member ASEAN.

"This expo has made new contributions toward friendly exchanges and economic cooperation between China and ASEAN countries," Zheng Junjian, secretary-general of the China-ASEAN Expo Secretariat, said at a press conference held after the closing ceremony.

As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the total trade volume at this year's expo reached 1.8 billion U.S. dollars, up 5.6 percent from the previous expo, said Zheng.

Zheng said 105 international economic agreements were signed, with total investment up 10.9 percent from last year's expo to 7.4 billion U.S. dollars.

About 2,300 enterprises participated in the six-day event, up by 4.6 percent from last year, he said.

As a platform for both economic and diplomatic exchanges, the expo also brought together Chinese and ASEAN state leaders, who held bilateral and multilateral meetings to improve mutual understanding and trust, said Zheng.

Premier Wen Jiabao, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and other state leaders attended the expo and six meetings were held between the heads of government.

"The attendance of state leaders and high-level officials from China and ASEAN member countries showed that governments are resolved to enhance reciprocal cooperation and boost the development of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) for common prosperity in face of a complex global economic situation," said Zheng.

China-ASEAN trade surged 37.5 percent year on year to 292.8 billion U.S.dollars in 2010, the year when the CAFTA was founded, according to customs figures.

In a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit held on the sidelines of the expo, Wen urged China and ASEAN to advance regional cooperation with a more pragmatic and open attitude, as the slowing world economy has had a "visible impact" on Asia.

China is ready to continue expanding imports from ASEAN and boost financial and monetary cooperation with the bloc, said Wen, who called on the two sides to "rise above political, economic, religious, cultural and other differences."

China is now the largest trading partner of ASEAN, while ASEAN ranks as China's third-largest trading partner. The two sides aim to increase annual bilateral trade to 500 billion U.S. dollars by 2015.

The eighth China-ASEAN Expo coincided with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN dialogue relations and featured a theme of "environmental protection cooperation."

An environmental protection cooperation forum was held on the sidelines of the expo, along with another 13 forums and exhibitions, said Zheng.

During the expo, the ASEAN-China Green Envoy Program was launched to facilitate communication and exchanges among governments, corporations and social organizations in order to promote environmentally friendly development.

Myanmar will host next year's expo, which will be held from Oct. 19 to 24 and feature a theme of "cooperation in science and technology," said Zheng.

ASEAN is made up of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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