Visitors exit the 17th China-ASEAN Expo venue in Nanning, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, with their purchases. [Photo by Yu Xiangquan/For China Daily]

Despite the COVID-19 effect and global economic uncertainties, officials and company executives from China and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations remained optimistic on the overall investment and trade outlook, after witnessing a healthy growth in investment deals during two recent expos.

Wang Lei, secretary-general of the China-ASEAN Expo Secretariat, said government officials and company executives from both sides have reiterated their commitment to boosting multilateral trade, combating the COVID-19 epidemic and fostering regional economic recovery. He made the remarks at the closing ceremony of the 17th China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Nanning, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on Monday.

Agreements worth 263.87 billion yuan ($40.13 billion) were signed for 86 investment projects at the events, up 43.6 percent on a yearly basis. Despite the COVID-19 epidemic, the growth in investment value was the highest in the history of the China-ASEAN Expo, according to the secretariat. About 85.3 percent of the investment deals signed were for projects in sectors like new energy, new manufacturing, big data, health, logistics, and new materials. Investment in these sectors rose by 67.8 percent on a yearly basis.

Yan Hao, president of Pacific Construction Group, said discussions at the expo have strengthened the company”s resolve to further strengthen ties with its ASEAN partners and expand businesses in the overseas market.

Yan said Pacific Construction plans to actively explore opportunities and cooperation with countries alongside the ancient Maritime Silk Road and participate in infrastructure projects between China and the ASEAN.

According to Wang from the China-ASEAN Expo Secretariat, 1,668 companies participated in this year’s CAEXPO, of which 108 are from 22 economies involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

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Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said during the expo that his country is willing to deepen cooperation to make China-ASEAN trade more convenient and tackle difficulties in trade and investment. Laksanawisit said Thailand will fully leverage resources offered by the China-ASEAN free trade area to create a stable and predictable business environment for companies and investors.

Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry Lim Ban Hong said the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will reduce trade friction and spur free trade and globalization. He said the RCEP will lay a solid foundation for wider, deeper, and stronger China-ASEAN cooperation and bring more benefits to the countries concerned.

Via China Daily