Respected Mr. Chairperson, Distinguished Delegates, Experts, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I have to make an explanation to you. The people's government of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has attached great importance to today’s conference and the vice secretary general Mr. Yu Jianhua was initially scheduled to address the conference. However, Mr. Yu couldn't be here because of a more urgent public affair, therefore I was appointed to represent him for the speech and I was much honored to take over the task. The following is the speech from Mr. Yu.
Distinguished Delegates, Experts, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Regional Workshop on Support to Trade Facilitation and Capacity Building in the Greater Mekong Sub-region co-sponsored by Chinese Ministry of Commerce and Asian Development Bank has its grand opening here today. On behalf of the people's government of Guangxi Zhuang
Autonomous Region, I'd like to express our congratulations on the opening of the meeting and extend warm welcome to officials from Ministry of Commerce and Asian Development Bank as well as delegates from around the world.
Guangxi, one of the five minority ethnic autonomous regions of China, is home to 12 ethnic groups including Zhuang, Han, Yao, Miao and Dong, etc. It has a population of over 49.6 million, among which more than 18 million are ethnic minorities. Zhuang people account for 32.8% of the total population. Guangxi is at the southern borderland of China and adjacent to Beibuwan, faces Southeast Asia and borders on Vietnam. It enjoys predominant location. It also boasts ample natural resources and is one of the country's ten key appellations of nonferrous metals. The reservation of manganese ore, aluminum ore, tin ore and antimony ore ranks top in the country. Agricultural product is another advantage of Guangxi. The production of cane and cane sugar, tea, cassava ranks the first in China. Besides, Guangxi enjoys abundant tourism resources. For example, we have world-renowned Guilin scenery, fantastic coastal scenery and fork culture. In recent years, through industry restructuring, the improvement of investment environment and further opening-up, attracting outside capital and other strategies, Guangxi has succeeded in developing industries of local features, pillar industries and all social causes. The GDP in 2006 reached 480.2 billion yuan, an increase of 13.5% than last year, with the increase rate ranking the 9th in China's 32 provinces and regions. The total of import and export stood at US＄ 6.67 billion, an increase of 28.8%; realized foreign investment amounted to US＄ 767 million, an increase of 20%; external investment was US ＄70 million.
Along with the acceleration of the construction of CAFTA, Guangxi has been playing an increasingly important role in connecting China and ASEAN markets. Guangxi, which used to be a closed and remote province in China, is now becoming the forefront of China's reform and opening up and one of the most dynamic regions. Guangxi and countries along Mekong River enjoy not only marine links, but also other geographical and human advantages for further economic cooperation.
Since its involvement in Grand-Mekong River sub-regional economic cooperation in 2005, Guangxi has placed its cooperation with GMS at an important place of its opening up. For example, we have sent high-level delegations to Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Thailand to promote Guangxi's trade and economic cooperation with GMS and have achieved good results. The total turnover between Guangxi and GMS reached US＄ 1.56 billion in 2006, among which the export volume hit US＄ 810 million and import US＄ 750 million, representing a year-on-year growth of 49.2% and 17% respectively. Farming machines, power equipments, metallurgical machines and sugar-producing equipments manufactured by Guangxi are very popular in GMS countries. Meanwhile, farm products from Vietnam and Thailand, tropical fruits in particular, are popular in Guangxi. Up till now, Guangxi has become the largest port for import of ASEAN fruits. By 2006, GMS countries had established 153 enterprises in Guangxi with actual investment capital of US＄ 279 million. Guangxi also invested in 77 projects in GMS with investment capital of US ＄ 6.37 million. Guangxi and GMS countries are highly distinctive but complimentary in resource, industrial structure and industrial and farming products, which signifies great potential for Guangxi and GMS'economy and trade cooperation.
Guangxi is one of the major provinces in China to participate in Grand-Mekong River Sub-regional economic cooperation, and one of our goals is to facilitate trade. Today's meeting not only provides us with a good chance to learn from each other but also helps to facilitate the trade between Guangxi and GMS. Let's seize this opportunity to learn from the experts and officials present here today and devote to working out measures and guidelines for future trade development. I believe, with the concerted efforts of all the members of GMS, trade facilitation will further accelerate the economic and trade cooperation in GMS and promote common prosperity of all member countries.
To conclude, I'd like to wish the Regional Workshop on Support to Trade Facilitation and Capacity Building in the Greater Mekong Sub-region a grand success and all the guests an enjoyable stay in Guangxi. Thank you.
(Full text of the remarks by Li Zhiyong, Vice Director-General of the Department of Commerce of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region at the Regional Workshop on Support to Trade Facilitation and Capacity Building in the Greater Mekong Sub-region & Workshop on Regional Economic Cooperation on September 11, 2007, as transcribed)