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60th Anniversary of Indonesia~Myanmar

China calling

Q&A with Han Oo Khin
July 19 - 25, 2010

CAEXPO Vice Secretary General Nong Rong.

A DELEGATION from China visited Myanmar earlier this month to drum up support for the seventh annual China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO), to be held from October 20-24 in Nanning, in China’s southern Guangxi province. CAEXPO Vice Secretary General Nong Rong talked to The Myanmar Times about the opportunities on offer for Myanmar companies at the expo and the growing trade between the two countries.

This is the seventh CAEXPO. Has Myanmar been well represented in the past?

Myanmar has been at all six expos and chartered an independent exhibition hall in the Pavilion of Commodity Trade at the last three. It has hosted 494 booths over that time and 1520 exhibitors and trade visitors from Myanmar have attended, signing trade deals worth US$43.648 million. With support from the governments of the two countries, CAEXPO will continue to provide opportunities for Myanmar enterprises to explore international markets.

Are any changes planned for this year?

As the first expo after the establishment of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA), the event is of great significance and presents new highlights. To maintain its high profile, the 7th CAEXPO will be held concurrently with the China-ASEAN FTA Achievement Exhibition to promote China-ASEAN cooperation. We are also adding four new pavilions in line with relevant agreements under the China-ASEAN FTA, such as the Pavilion of Trade in Services, which focuses on financial services, logistics services and educational exchange services. There will also be specialised exhibition sections like a jewellery section and an ASEAN brands section. We will also hold a series of high-end forums on the theme of CAFTA and new opportunities to expand bilateral cooperation in various fields.

CAFTA came into effect on January 1, with Myanmar committing to scrap tariffs on 90 pc of goods traded with China by 2015. What impact has the FTA had so far?

Chinese statistics for the first four months of this year show bilateral trade with ASEAN countries grew 76.8pc compared to the same period last year to US$1.32 billion. Myanmar’s exports to China soared by 72.4pc while imports from China increased 79pc [no figures were given], showing the effect of the FTA has been equal for the two countries. The FTA has also increased two-way investment in the region and Myanmar is an important destination for Chinese investment.
The signing of the China-ASEAN FTA Agreement on Trade in Services and Investment Agreement will open the services sector in both countries and provide a more stable and transparent investment environment. ASEAN is now the 5th largest export market and import source of services for China and Myanmar, being an important ASEAN member, boasts huge potential for cooperating with China on trade in goods and services and investment.

How are preparations going for Myanmar exhibitors?

Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce, a CAEXPO co-sponsor, is organising enterprises to bring their cutting-edge products to the event. Myanmar will have 96 commodity booths, the same as last year, and an exhibition area to promote Mandalay, your City of Charm. Officials from your investment authority will also attend to attract more Chinese investment. The Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Myanmar Forest Products & Timber Merchants Association, the Beans & Sesame Seeds Merchants Association, Myanmar Pulses, Myanmar Agro Based Food Processors & Exporters Association, the Myanmar Fisheries Federation and the Myanmar Industries Association have all agreed to bring their member enterprises and support us in promoting the event to develop trade.