On March 6, 2014, the 11th CAEXPO Senior Officials Meeting was convened in Nanning. Senior officials from China and ASEAN summarized the successful experience of the “Golden Decade” of China-ASEAN cooperation and discussed the long-term development plan of the CAEXPO. At the meeting, it is agreed that the 11 countries should rely on the “Golden Decade” to present a better CAEXPO to serve the “Diamond Decade” by taking the advantage of the upgraded CAFTA and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road.
Upgraded CAFTA as New Focus
Ever since its inception, the CAEXPO has carried the mission of promoting the CAFTA construction. Over the past decade, it has focused on the development of CAFTA and provided information on enterprises, commodities, projects and funds from the 11 countries, pushing forward the investment and trade facilitation in the CAFTA from the government-level to enterprise-level. It has extended the cooperation fields and exerted great influence on CAFTA construction. On the opening ceremony of the 10th CAEXPO, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang advocated to build the upgraded version of the CAFTA, and promised that China would carry on the tradition formed in CAFTA construction in the past decade and give priority to the interest appeal of the ASEAN countries, creating more favorable conditions for their development.
By 2004, the cooperation between China and ASEAN has still been the highlight of the world, and the CAEXPO will continue to play an important part in bilateral cooperation. As Zheng Junjian, Secretary-General of China- ASEAN Expo Secretariat, denoted, with the upgrading of the CAFTA, the CAEXPO also needs to be upgraded to better serve the CAFTA construction. Based on the remarkable achievements made in the past 10 CAEXPOs, the CAEXPO will continue to create new forms and contents for economic and trade activities, and further extend cooperation fields and opening up, trying to start a new journey of in-depth cooperation and regional economic integration.
Serving the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road”
At various meetings between China and ASEAN, leaders from both sides highly evaluated the role the CAEXPO has played in the “Golden Decade”. At the same time, they expected it to play a more important role in the “Diamond Decade” and make more contributions to promote the construction of the Upgraded CAFTA and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road.
Zheng Junjian claimed, on the basis of serving merchandize trade and investment cooperation, the 11th CAEXPO will carry forward connectivity construction as well as maritime cooperation, financial cooperation, safety cooperation, cultural cooperation, science and technology cooperation, and environmental protection cooperation, and propel the construction of 21st century Maritime Silk Road.
He also declared that it had been decided that the China-ASEAN Port Cities Cooperation Network Forum had been upgraded to a principal forum to better serve the construction
of the Maritime Silk Road. It will carry out discussions on port city cooperation, maritime connectivity, maritime economy and coastal tourism, and promote land connectivity at the same time.
Besides, forums and exchange activities in environmental protection, science and technology, agriculture, and mining will be held and more issues will be added to create more cooperation mechanisms, with the aim of facilitating the 21st century Maritime Silk Road.
Innovating the CAEXPO
It is said that the 11th CAEXPO will continue to be co-sponsored by 11 countries, and each country will respectively establish and complete their leader attendance working mechanisms. State leaders from China and ASEAN will lead their delegations to attend the 11th CAEXPO with high profile. Singapore, the Country of Honor of the 11th CAEXPO, will send its delegation to hold a series of activities and present the outlook and business opportunities of Singapore.
Ouprum Vorak, Deputy Chief of the Trade Promotion Department of Cambodian Ministry of Commerce stated that he was very glad that the 11th CAEXPO would continue to arrange high-level bridging activities between political leaders and entrepreneurs, and take the advantage of political and diplomatic influence of the CAEXPO to promote cooperation in various areas like economy, trade, and people-to-people exchanges.
And Zheng Junjian said that the 11th CAEXPO will focus on the needs of the upgraded CAFTA, and try to optimize the content and service function, so as to realize the goal set by leaders of both sides: $1 trillion bilateral trade and an increased two-way investment of $150 billion in 2020.