The much-discussed trade war between the United States and China might have a ripple effect on trade between China and Asean, but will not harm the expansion of trade, said the vice secretary-general of the Guangxi International Exposition Bureau.
Furthermore, trade is often conducted multilaterally, which means China will continue its Belt and Road Initiative while also actively pushing for even bigger trade expos each year, after the highly successful Nanning China Asean Expo, which concluded last month.
“We take note of international developments which may impact trade, not only in our sphere of activities but on a global scale as a whole. However, we are of the opinion that trade and trade expos between China and Asean enable trade growth momentum,” said Huang Pingxi, vice secretary-general and vice inspector of the Guangxi International Exposition Bureau.
The annual China-Asean Expo (Caexpo) aims to consolidate the friendly relation between China and Asean, and promote the cooperation between both sides in various fields.
Caexpo is co-sponsored by the ministries of commerce or industry of China and the 10 Asean member states, as well as the Asean Secretariat, and is organised by the government of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region
It displays products like machinery and equipment, electronics and electrical appliances, light industrial products and handicrafts, agricultural products and foodstuffs, investment cooperation projects and high-tech products.
The main products showcased by Cambodian firms at the last expo were agricultural items, handicrafts and silverware. Those firms joined more than 2,700 exhibitors from countries as far away as Africa.
“We already held 15 of these expositions with each one getting bigger and better. Each new one has more participants and a new country of honour along with a host country of honour,” said Mr Huang.
The Caexpo will display more high-tech products and will feature more promotion and business matching events to encourage more Chinese investment in Asean.
All this will aid the development and integration of the industry and the value chains, which, in turn, will boost growth and increase benefits to all stakeholders in China, Asean and beyond.
China has been Asean’s largest trading partner for the last nine years. Last year, trade between the two sides exceeded $500 billion.
Mr Huang added that, besides organising the expos every year, the secretariat is tasked with ensuring that the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region moves quickly to shore up areas of weakness in the construction of the Southern Transport Corridor, facilitating the exchange of goods between China and Southeast Asia and realising trade potential between the two regions.
The Southern Transport Corridor is an important artery linking China’s western provinces to Asean through the Beibu Gulf in South China’s Guangxi.
Through this route, goods coming from the western provinces of China can be shipped all the way to Singapore by road, railway and waterways. The route also connects Europe to Southeast Asia, with Chongqing as the vital railway link.
“The corridor helps shorten the distance and saves time in shipping goods from the western region to Southeast Asia. More importantly, it helps expand economic and trade exchanges with Asean countries and promotes the western region’s opening and development,” said Mr Huang.
Returning to the infamous China-US trade war, Mr Huang said that, although it will affect trade to an extent, it does not pose a threat to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, nor will it stop the country from growing its trade and commerce activities with Asean nations.