NANNING, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- The 6th China-ASEAN Expo is to be held from Oct. 20 to 24 in Nanning, capital city of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
China and ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, have greatly increased mutual investment and trade on the platform of this annual event. Amid growing ties, the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, or CAFTA, is soon to be established on Jan. 1, 2010.
CAFTA is expected to become the world's third FTA with a population of 1.9 billion, a trade volume of 4.5 trillion U.S. dollars and a combined GDP of 6 trillion U.S. dollars, following the North American FTA and the European FTA.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam with a total area of 4.5 million square kilometers.
The expo was initiated by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the 7thChina-ASEAN summit in 2003, in a bid to promote the establishment of CAFTA and common prosperity of both sides, winning wide supports from leaders of the ASEAN countries.
The first four-day expo was held in Nanning in 2004, which also became a permanent venue for the expo. It attracted 18,000 exhibitors and visitors both from home and abroad, and concluded with a trade volume of 1 billion US dollars.
The first expo, along with a China-ASEAN investment summit and promotion conferences, covered various sectors including machinery, electronic home appliance, information technology, construction material, medicine and textiles.
The second expo attracted 25,000 exhibitors and visitors and concluded with a trade volume of 1.15 billion US dollars, up 6 percent from the first one.
Premier Wen attended the third expo which attracted nearly 40,000 exhibitors. A total of 132 international investment cooperation projects worth 5.85 billion US dollars were contracted at the expo, up 10.5 percent over the previous year.
At the fourth expo, 182 international investment cooperation projects worth 6.15 billion US dollars were contracted, up 5.3 percent over the previous year.
For the fifth expo in 2008, the hottest topic was to combat global financial crisis through regional cooperation. The trade volume at the fifth expo hit 6.52 billion US dollars, and the total business turnover reached nearly 1.6 billion US dollars, up 12 percent over the fourth event.
A total of 29 state leaders and over 800 VIPs at ministerial level from China and the ASEAN countries have attended the expo over the past five years, which attracted 119,000 exhibitors and visitors in total.
As China is coping with global financial crisis and trade barriers from western countries, the sixth expo, seen as a key chance to advance consultation on CAFTA, is to raise the curtain on Tuesday. It has been extended to five days to meet the demands of exhibitors and visitors, and a higher trade volume is expected.