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China-ASEAN Expo closes on high note

THE five-day 6th China-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Expo closed with fruitful economic and trade cooperation, an official with the organizing committee announced over the weekend.

The expo, which ended on Saturday in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, had been "practical and effective," according to Chen Wu, vice co-chair and secretary-general of the China-ASEAN Expo Organizing Committee, and also the region's vice governor.

By Saturday evening, total trade volume at the expo totaled US$1.65 billion, a 3.8 percent rise over last year's event. Meanwhile, 136 cross-border investment projects had been signed with investment of US$6.44 billion, up 1.19 percent from last year, Chen said at the expo's closing ceremony.

Chinese enterprises sealed 204 deals with a total investment of 61.85 billion yuan (US$9.1 billion), up 1.05 percent from a year ago, he said.

A total of 11 high-level forums were held on the sidelines of the expo, including the China-ASEAN Customs-Trade Cooperation Forum and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit.

The expo this year also pushed forward the final preparations for the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, which will be fully realized by January 1, 2010, he said.

The China-ASEAN Free Trade Area will be the world's largest with a combined population of 1.9 billion and the world's third-largest in terms of trade volume.

The 7th Expo will be held in October next year in Nanning with the theme of "the Free Trade Area and new opportunities," according to Chen. It will focus on the establishment of the FTA, introducing business opportunities in the newly established area and further promote trade facilitation, he said.

China is now ASEAN's fourth-largest trading and investment partner, and its trade with ASEAN countries for 10.6 percent of the bloc's total. Its investment in ASEAN member states soared by 125 percent annually to US$2.18 billion in 2008.

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


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