China, 24 October 2011


With a flourish, a gleaming brass plague was unveiled at the Jiangnan District of Guangxi’s Nanning city, declaring the official opening of the China-ASEAN Plaza on Saturday.

Witnessed by Secretary-General of ASEAN, and senior leaders from China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the China-ASEAN Plaza is a concrete landmark of the growing economic ties between the Asian giant, and its Southeast Asian neighbours.

Earlier, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had pointed out that the Plaza will serve as an important logistics base, as well as an exhibition and marketing platform, and he hoped ASEAN businesses would use it to boost their share of the Chinese market.

“Premier Wen Jiabao has a vision of total trade reaching US$500 billion by 2015. If you are confident of meeting that challenge, please applaud loudly,” said Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN, at the Inauguration of the China-ASEAN Plaza.

As the resounding applause subsided, Dr Surin pointed out that although two-way trade has been impressive – increasing nearly 40 times in two decades – Chinese total investment in ASEAN is a pale shadow of trade numbers.

The audience of business leaders rose to the occasion again, when Dr Surin challenged them to boost Chinese investment to beyond the current US$13 billion.

When completed, the China-ASEAN Plaza will boast a total floor area of 480,000 square meters, consisting of two buildings. It would host some 10,000 shops inside, with each occupying an area of 25 square meters.

The Plaza also boasts an annual budget of some US$30 million for publicity and promotion. It has also set aside an ASEAN Specialities Trade Area of 50,000 square meters.

The launch of the Plaza is another landmark event of the 8th China-ASEAN Expo, which is currently being held in the southern Chinese city of Nanning. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of bilateral ties between China and ASEAN.

To ensure that supporting mechanisms are ready to support bilateral trade, officials from both sides are also cooperating on standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures.

The formal discussions on ASEAN-China cooperation on Technical barriers to Trade, or TBT in short, were also held in Nanning. The talks were focusing on five key areas, including:

  1. The establishment of an information notification and communication system on standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures;
  2. Exchange of visits by officials from both sides, to assist in the sharing of technical experiences, and to facilitate discussions on identified sectors;
  3. Organization of training courses, seminars and other activities to benefit from each other’s strengths to assist in enhancing mutual technical capabilities – including support to narrow the development gap within ASEAN;
  4. Organize collaborative research;
  5. To establish a regular mechanism for consultation, facilitation and coordination to support the implementation the ASEAN-China TBT MoU.

Latest data showed that total trade between ASEAN and China is now worth some US$300 billion.