A land-sea corridor featuring multimodal transport networks will play a key role in enhancing economic and trade cooperation further between China and ASEAN, officials and business leaders said at a recent forum.
“The impact of the new corridor is obvious,” said Sun Dawei, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Guangxi Committee, referring to the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor that was launched in September 2017 by provincial-level regions in western China, Singapore and other Southeast Asian economies.
Sun was speaking on September 10 at the China-ASEAN Business Leaders Forum and Special Meeting on the 30th Anniversary of the China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations, an event held virtually and in-person in Nanning, capital of southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
A total of 4,596 sets of sea-rail freight trains were operated on the trade corridor in 2020, exceeding the total number of trains operated in the previous three years, according to Sun.
With the route, goods from western China can be shipped to and from countries such as Singapore through the Beibu Gulf in Guangxi by road, rail and water. The route also connects Europe to Southeast Asia.
The volume of cargo handling of the Beibu Gulf port has reached 173.1 million metric tonnes in the first half of 2021, a year-on-year increase of 24.1 per cent. The number for containers reached 2.61 million twenty-foot equivalent units, up 22.3 per cent. Sun said the growth was among the highest in major ports in China.
In 2020, bilateral trade between Guangxi and ASEAN countries grew 1.7 per cent to 237.57 billion yuan ($36.8 billion), accounting for nearly half of the Guangxi region’s total foreign trade.
Sun said the region is willing to work with ASEAN countries to further enhance infrastructure connectivity and develop the new corridor as the most time-saving route that connects China and ASEAN with attractive cost benefits.
Noting the fast progress in building the new corridor, together with sub-regional frameworks such as the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation and the China-ASEAN Eastern Growth Area, Gao Yan, chairperson of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said the business communities in China and the 10-nation ASEAN bloc have reaped huge benefits from the deepened economic and trade cooperation, achieving shared development.
“Over the past 30 years, the trade volume between China and ASEAN increased by 85 times, with the cumulative investment between the two sides exceeding $310 billion,” Gao said at the same forum on Sept 10.
Thai commerce minister Jurin Laksanawisit said ASEAN and China are the most dynamic strategic partners.
Jurin said ASEAN and China have always adhered to the principle of mutual respect and jointly pursued prosperity in all sectors. In particular, he said the anti-pandemic cooperation between the two sides has set an example for international cooperation.
Noting that Belt and Road Initiative has promoted international trade cooperation, he said Thailand also highly values the importance of a multilateral trade system in global economic growth.
Jurin said Thailand, China, and other signatory countries of the Regional Cooperation Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement should work together to form a regional economic environment that is open, transparent, fair and stable.
The RCEP is a mega free trade pact inked in November by ASEAN, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, with the members accounting for one-third of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).
During the forum, participants welcomed the launch of an initiative that aims to promote joint consultations, contributions and sharing of the benefits of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor among business communities of China and the ASEAN.
A launch ceremony for “Cross-border Supply Chain Digital Collaboration via the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor” was also held.
National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia president Low Kian Chuan said his organisation supports the cooperation initiative to promote multi-dimensional connectivity between Southeast Asia and Eurasia through central and western China.
“In the post-pandemic era, we need to further promote the China-ASEAN cooperation to reach a new 30-year high,” said Low.
CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK