（Written by Xu Junhao / Translated by Mo Tingting）According to Mr. Wang Lei, Secretary-General of the China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) Secretariat, the CAEXPO has already made a preliminary plan to seize the opportunity of RCEP as it takes effect. The preparatory work for the 18th CAEXPO will be started as early as possible in 2021, and the RCEP Summit Forum, Economy and Trade Ministers’ Meeting, and Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will be held in the same period to further enhance the diplomatic status of the CAEXPO as the main venue.
In the next few years, it will be the main development direction and strategic plan of the CAEXPO to extend the service scope from China-ASEAN “10+1” to RCEP “10+5” and actively promote itself into the CAEXPO & RCEP Expo. Under this backdrop, the above plan will be a big step for the upgrading and development of the CAEXPO. So why should the CAEXPO extend its service scope to RCEP? And what are the advantages of the CAEXPO?
Professional and practical service for “10+1”
RCEP is a multilateral free trade agreement initiated by ASEAN, covering ASEAN, China and four other member countries. On the one hand, the implementation and entry into the RCEP will bring new changes to China-ASEAN economic and trade cooperation. To advance with the times and better serve China-ASEAN cooperation, it is the mission of the CAEXPO to extend its service scope to RCEP.
On the other hand, before the implementation of the RCEP, some challenges need to be tackled, such as how countries can implement higher standard trade rules based on different capabilities, so as to achieve mutual benefit and win-win results. Depending on its rich experience in serving the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, the CAEXPO will provide a platform for all parties concerned to jointly address the challenges.
As a consorted and tailor-made platform for the CAFTA, the CAEXPO has been a “booster” of the CAFTA and brought tangible economic and trade benefits to merchants inside and outside the region by virtue of business opportunities of all walks of life from 11 countries through import and export, trade in goods and services, and exhibitions.
Since CAEXPO is not only a grand fair for economic and trade, but also a diplomatic stage and cultural feast between China and ASEAN countries, high-level interaction and people-to-people exchanges between China and ASEAN countries are getting closer in the opening ceremony, high-level forums and various arts and sports activities of every year’s CAEXPO.
Mr. Wang Lei said: “Since the establishment of the CAFTA, we have achieved the goal set when the CAEXPO was set, and made practical progress in promoting political mutual trust and bilateral investment and trade with more than ten years’ efforts.” With the mission of promoting political mutual trust, economic and trade cooperation, and cultural exchanges among CAFTA members, CAEXPO will better serve the implementation of RCEP.
Serving RCEP is also serving the Belt and Road
We should jointly build the Belt and Road through consultation and make a win-win CAEXPO with concerted efforts. Since the Belt and Road Initiative was put forward, the CAEXPO has actively set relevant themes around the construction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and has taken the service of the Belt and Road construction as an important direction and goal of its upgrading and development.
The Belt and Road exhibition area was set up to attract enterprises from Pakistan, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, Sri Lanka, India, France, Italy and other countries. The mechanism of Special Partner Country was carried out for countries along the Belt and Road, enabled them to have a chance to promote the national image, superior commodities and key industries. Today, CAEXPO is not only a professional platform to boost China-ASEAN cooperation, but also brings new opportunities to countries outside the region, especially countries along the Belt and Road.
It is worth mentioning that enterprises from RCEP countries have been actively invited to participate in the previous CAEXPO. South Korea, a member of RCEP, was the Special Partner Country of the CAEXPO. The Belt and Road exhibition area was firstly set up at the 17th CAEXPO. Enterprises from South Korea, Japan, Australia and other RCEP members participated in the exhibition.
Ambassador of Pakistan to China Mr. Moin-ul-Haq, who attended the 17th CAEXPO, said that Pakistan has strengthened trade and investment cooperation with China and ASEAN through the CAEXPO and hoped that Pakistan would continue to participate in the CAEXPO in the future. The person in charge of the Shanghai Office of Kumamoto Prefecture of Japan also expressed the hope that through CAEXPO, more Chinese tourists can know about Kumamoto Prefecture and recommend the good tourism resources and products of Kumamoto Prefecture to Chinese consumers.
It can be seen that in the process of serving the construction of the Belt and Road, CAEXPO has a more and more intimate relationship with RCEP member states. These countries’ sense of gain and the importance they attach to the CAEXPO is a solid foundation for the CAEXPO, which in return proves that the CAEXPO will be an excellent platform for RCEP member states to expand and deepen cooperation in various fields.
Meanwhile, RCEP will build the largest free trade area covering nearly 30% of the world’s population and GDP, thus vigorously promoting regional economic integration, which is in line with the spirit of the Belt and Road Initiative. In fact, CAEXPO is serving the construction of the Belt and Road when serving the RCEP.
Nowadays, all parties from China and ASEAN have agreed that the signing of RCEP will provide a strong impetus for enterprises from China and ASEAN countries to cope with the impact of the epidemic and expand the regional market. It is also a great opportunity for the CAEXPO to upgrade and develop.
It is projected that the 18th CAEXPO will make full use of the opportunity of the RCEP by taking various forms to boost the construction of the RCEP, such as striving to hold the RCEP Summit Forum, Economy and Trade Ministers’ Meeting and Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, inviting more enterprises from RCEP member states to participate in the CAEXPO, planning and holding special economic and trade activities of RCEP, and promoting the implementation of more projects and policies. Going forward, the CAEXPO will help to smooth the construction of RCEP, and extend its service scope from “10+1” to “10+5” and countries along the Belt and Road.
Source: China-ASEAN Panorama