The third China-ASEAN Expo, an annual event aiming at boosting economic and trade ties between China and Southeast Asian countries, opened on Tuesday in Nanning, capital of China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and leaders from all the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) attended the opening ceremony.
Addressing the ceremony, Wen said that the Expo demonstrated the common aspiration of China and the ASEAN to grasp opportunities for deepening cooperation, and served as a platform to push forward substantial trade, investment and tourism cooperation.
He said that this year marked the 15th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN dialogue relations, and that the past 15 years had seen the tremendous development of the economic and trade relationship between China and the regional bloc, with the two-way trade volume hitting 130 billion U.S. dollars last year, a15-fold growth from that in 1991.
Meanwhile, two-way investments of China and the ASEAN countries reached 40 billion dollars in 2005, Wen said.
A series of plans, such as the efforts to set up the China-ASEAN free trade area, subregional cooperation and the FTA Early Harvest Program, are steadily underway, he added.
Noting that huge potentials remained untapped in the bilateral economic and trade cooperation, Wen called for more active measures from both sides so as to achieve the goal of raising the two-way trade volume to 200 billion dollars by 2010.
The envisaged China-ASEAN free trade area will have a population of 1.8 billion and a combined gross domestic product of 2 trillion dollars when completed in 2015, the most populous and also the third largest free trade zone after the European Union and the United States.