The workshop on regional economic cooperation sponsored by Ministry of Commerce is officially opened today. On behalf of government of Guangxi Zhuang Antonomous Region, I would like to extend our sincere congratulations on the opening of the workshop and our warm welcome to all the distinguished guests, both from home and abroad.
Regional economic integration and economic globalization are two major trends in the world today. Especially at a time when the Doha Round trade negotiations have long been in a deadlock, regional economic cooperation has drawn particular attention and interest. In regional economic cooperation, regional economic integration and cooperation in Asia-Pacific Region, in my opinion, is the most eye-catching and dynamic part. In this region, the economic cooperation between China and ASEAN countries is the most vigorous and outstanding one. Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, with the advantage in its favorable geographical location, is playing an irreplaceable role and will play an even bigger role in the future.
Guangxi, being an intermediary region between the Chinese market and ASEAN market, and bordering ASEAN countries on land and by water, serves as the bridgehead of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area. In recent years, Guangxi has actively participated in regional cooperation with ASEAN countries. Bilateral economic and trade cooperation has shown good momentum. In 2006, trade volume between Guangxi and ASEAN countries totaled US$1.8 billion, accounting for 27% of the total foreign trade volume in Guangxi. That is to say, ASEAN countries contributed over one forth of Guangxi's foreign trade. ASEAN countries, for the past 8 consecutive years have been the largest trade partner of Guangxi. It has also become the third biggest source of foreign investment to Guangxi. Up to 2006, ASEAN countries had invested in over 400 projects in Guangxi with total investment reaching US$1.4 billion. At the same time, ASEAN countries have become the major recipient of investment from companies in Guangxi. Therefore, ASEAN has become an indispensable and important economic and trade partner of Guangxi.
To deepen bilateral practical cooperation and friendship, in 2007, China proposed the establishment of the Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Zone, extending China's economic cooperation with Vietnam at the Beibu Gulf Rim to such countries as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippine and Brunei, which are all ASEAN countries that are close to Beibu Gulf. Through various forms of cooperation, we are making efforts to build a number of industrial and port and city clusters at Beibu Gulf and Pan Beibu Gulf, so as to complement and promote the development of the Greater Mekong Subregional economic cooperation.
Some people wonder that as we already have in place CAFTA, GMS economic cooperation, Pan Beibu Gulf economic cooperation, and the "two corridors and one circle" subregional cooperation model proposed by our Vietnamese friends, then what are the relations among these different cooperation mechanisms? I have been asked this question and have had some serious considerations in this regard. I believe the relations among these mechanisms are those of concentric circles, different circles with the same center. Some people will then ask what this center of the circles is. The center is, I think, the common interests of China and the ten ASEAN countries. Guided by this center, we have come up with different proposals, or different circles around the same center. These mechanisms complement and promote each other to improve the development of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area and better serve the interests of China and the ten ASEAN countries and consequently achieve common development and prosperity for us. Therefore, any regional or subregional cooperation is ultimately to promote "ten plus one" cooperation.
The Pan Beibu Gulf cooperation blueprint has been applauded and supported by Chinese leaders and leaders from countries including Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippine and Brunei. ASEAN Secretariat and Asian Development Bank have also shown their agreement and support for the Pan Beibu Gulf cooperation. At present, basic consensus on Pan Beibu Gulf cooperation has been reached. Cooperation and relevant projects have been launched or are being implemented. Pan Beibu Gulf economic cooperation will gradually become the new distinctive area of the cooperation between China and ASEAN.
Ladies and gentlemen and distinguished guests, this workshop held in Guangxi offers a good opportunity for Guangxi to engage in and promote regional cooperation and accelerate its own development. Guangxi will seize favorable opportunities, combine its own development with regional cooperation, value and make full use of cooperation opportunities and platforms. Under the guidance of the principles of complementarity of strength, long-term cooperation, mutual benefit, and common development, Guangxi will strengthen multi-regional cooperation to achieve win-win development. We are looking forward to opinions from experts, guests and friends present here on how Guangxi can better participate in Pan Beibu Gulf economic cooperation. We sincerely hope that you will share with us your insight and suggestions.
In closing, I wish this workshop a complete success, and all of you a pleasant stay in Guangxi. Please spare some time to take a tour around Guangxi to feel the hospitality of the local people and appreciate the charm of cities here. Thank you!
(Full text of the remarks by Yu Jianhua, Vice Secretary General of Guangxi Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region at the "Regional Workshop on Support to Trade Facilitation and Capacity Building in the Greater Mekong Subregion & Workshop on Regional Economic Cooperation" on September 11, 2007, as transcribed)