Business and political leaders from China and ASEAN met to plan the Maritime Silk Road between China, Malaysia, Myanmar and India. The expo lasted four days and brought in over 2,300 companies to the Chinese city of Nanning.
Zhang Gaoli, the Chinese Vice Premier, opened the ceremony by calling on all ASEAN nations to assist in building a “21st Century Maritime Silk Road”. He spoke of the common development, trust building, and economic growth that the project would bring. He also encouraged both sides to strengthen the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area and increase opportunities for cultural exchange.
The Vice Premier’s statements were welcomed by ASEAN leaders. Thai Deputy Prime Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn said that he wishes for closer cooperation between China and ASEAN due to the role maritime connectivity plays in regional trade. Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he is looking forward to working with China to iron out the details. He expressed hope that the Maritime Silk Road could happen regardless of regional conflict.
Maritime Silk Road to Bring ASEAN and China Closer
ASEAN and China have named the past ten years the “Golden Decade” with regards to their relations. They’ve labeled the next ten years the “Diamond Decade”, aiming to implement more economic integration.
Bilateral trade between China and ASEAN reached US$443.61 billion in 2013. This was nearly six times the figure it was during 2003. The two regions will strive to push trade to US$500 billion during 2015, and over one trillion dollars by 2020.
According to Zhang Gaoli, China will import more than US$10 trillion worth of products in the next five years. Its outbound foreign direct investment will surpass US$500 billion. “The sustained and sound growth of the Chinese economy will continue to drive the world economy and bring benefits to people of ASEAN countries.”
The Maritime Silk Road will bring many benefits to the region. Frontier markets will benefit the most from increased Chinese investment in ASEAN.
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