NANNING, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- The 6th China-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Expo is to open here on Tuesday to enhance regional cooperation and trade amid the expanding global trade barriers and strengthen communication on the upcoming free trade zone.
High ranking officials and businessmen from the 10 ASEAN countries and China gathered in the southern Chinese city to attend the Expo, which would conclude on Saturday.
The Expo, namely "10+1", was proposed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in 2003 as a platform for elites in this region to exchange views on accelerating economic development and create a better trade environment.
The 10 ASEAN countries are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam with a total area of 4.5 million square kilometers, whose economies were seriously damaged by the financial crisis in 1997.
In a time of rising global trade barriers, the Expo this year is seen as an important opportunity to strengthen communication and consultation on the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (FTA), which will be realized by January 1, 2010.
It is the first free trade area agreement signed by China that would provide zero tariff on 90 percent of products traded between China and ASEAN and other favorable policies on trade and investment.
Upon completion, the China-ASEAN FTA will be the biggest free trade zone in the world, forming a market with a population of 1.9trillion, a trade volume of 4.5 trillion U.S. dollars and a combined GDP of 6 trillion U.S. dollars.
The negotiation process of the FTA had been completed after the ASEAN-China Investment Agreement was signed in August this year, which was the last of the series of trade agreements in goods and services.
The Expo will also further communications between China and ASEAN members in various fields with high-level forums, including the China-ASEAN Agricultural Cooperation Summit Forum, the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, and the China-ASEAN Customs-Trade Cooperation Forum.