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Nanning Trading Expo to Facilitate Trade and Cultural Exchanges

The distinctive multicultural elements-buildings, expats and cuisines-can be seen everywhere in Nanning, capital of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, thanks to a trading expo that was first held in 2004.

With the aim of facilitating political, economic and trade exchanges and cooperation between China and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the China-ASEAN Expo, has been held annually in Nanning.

Wang Jingrong, former secretary general of ASEAN, said the expo, which he referred to as the "Nanning Channel", has facilitated stable communications between China and ASEAN nations.

This year marks both the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the China-ASEAN dialogue and the first anniversary of the founding of the ASEAN Community.

Discussions at the 2016 China-ASEAN Expo, which will be held in September, will focus on regular topics such as finance, technology, environmental protection, logistics, electricity, mining, education and culture, as well as new subjects including meteorology and people's livelihoods.

It will also promote the launch of more cooperation mechanisms and projects in key fields related to the construction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, said Wang Lei, secretary general of the expo.

The past 12 sessions of the expo had attracted more than 200,000 companies and nearly 520,000 businessmen to participate in 143 high-end forums, as well as promotion activities, matchmaking events and professional exhibitions.

Each session had included speeches by national leaders at the opening ceremony, and high-level meetings and dialogues. To date, 59 Chinese and ASEAN country leaders and more than 2,500 ministers had attended the expo.

"Through 12 years of development, the China-ASEAN Expo now serves as a service platform for the upgrade of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, a communication platform between China and the ASEAN Community, a core platform for cooperation in building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and a local demonstration platform for win-win cooperation," said Zhang Xiaoqin, vice-chairman of Guangxi.

A series of cooperative mechanisms were launched in the past 12 sessions to solve problems in such fields as currency conversion, customs, inspection and quarantine, ports and logistics.

For example, in April 2014, a pilot currency exchange center offering direct convertibility of the yuan and Vietnamese dong was set up in the autonomous region's Dongxing city, which is home to a Sino-Vietnam cross-border economic cooperation zone.

Many Vietnamese products are bought with yuan payments in the zone, and trade volume of the settlement center has hit 12 million yuan daily.

The expo has boosted the exchange of human resources and to date, Guangxi has welcomed more than 7,400 ASEAN students and sent over 5,000 local students to ASEAN countries.

It has enhanced cooperation with international organizations such as the World Trade Organization and the United Nations International Trade Center, which now both support the annual event.

The service scope of the expo has been expanded to member countries of the regional comprehensive economic partnership-the biggest regional trade arrangement in Asia, and countries along the Belt and Road Initiative.