The seventh edition of the China-South Asia Expo, themed “Solidarity and Coordination for Mutual Development,” commenced on August 16 in Kunming, situated in the southwestern province of Yunnan, China.
Spanning five days, the expo boasts 15 expansive exhibition halls and a diverse array of 14 engaging activities. Encompassing South Asian, Southeast Asian nations, and the member states of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the event seeks to bolster economic and trade partnerships.
Since its inauguration in 2013, the China-South Asia Expo has found a permanent home in Kunming, evolving into a pivotal platform for fostering economic and trade cooperation among China, South Asian, and Southeast Asian nations.
Within the precincts of the China (Yunnan) Pilot Free Trade Zone’s international trade enterprise cluster park, 24 human resource companies have already established themselves. Chang Jixing, the head of the human resources and social security bureau in Kunming’s Guandu district, frequents the park, highlighting the need for proactive strategies in nurturing foreign trade talents due to the ongoing expansion of international trade.
Recent days witnessed a business delegation from Sri Lanka exploring the park’s offerings. Fascinated by the vast potential of the Chinese market, the delegation engaged the park’s executives, aiming to foster collaborations involving Sri Lankan jewelry and black tea with Chinese enterprises.
During their interaction with live streaming at the park, delegation members lauded the newly minted studio adorned with ethnic decor and equipped with cutting-edge facilities.
A member of the delegation expressed, “The China-South Asia Expo serves not only as a platform to showcase commodities but also as a bridge to cultivate relationships with Chinese foreign trade entities.”
On August 4, the inaugural batch of 59 exhibits entered the exhibition halls under the watchful eye of local customs officials. Streamlined through integrated national customs clearance processes, this year’s exhibits have reduced logistics costs for businesses while ensuring prompt customs clearance and timely display, as explained by Fu Yu, customs declaration manager at Yunnan Easy-trans International Freight Forwarder Co., Ltd.
In 2013, when the inaugural China-South Asia Expo took place, bilateral trade between China and South Asian nations amounted to less than $100 billion. Fast forward to 2022, the figure nearly doubled to around $200 billion, signifying an average annual growth rate of 8.3 percent over the past decade.
China consistently emerges as the primary trading partner for countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Maldives.
Various products originating from South Asian nations, encompassing aquatic delicacies, tea, and nuts, have garnered immense popularity among Chinese consumers, resulting in a steady surge in exports to China.
In January 2018, China and Sri Lanka jointly inaugurated the Moragahakanda Dam, a landmark accomplishment overseen by PowerChina Sinohydro Bureau 14 Co., Ltd. Serving as Sri Lanka’s most extensive water conservancy project, the dam has significantly improved local electricity supply stability and overall quality of life.
This accomplishment exemplifies how China-funded ventures have contributed to South Asia’s progress. As of July 2023, China’s cumulative investments in South Asia neared $15 billion, with the turnover from projects contracted by Chinese companies exceeding $200 billion.
The inauguration of the China-Laos Railway has streamlined rail transportation, complemented by increasingly seamless aviation and comprehensive transport networks. To better cater to foreign participants in the China-South Asia Expo, China Eastern Airlines introduced a novel air route connecting Kunming to Kathmandu, Nepal. Moreover, enhanced flight frequencies now link Kunming to Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, and Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.
Collectively accounting for a fifth of the world’s economy, China and South Asia represent one of the globe’s most rapidly advancing and dynamic regions. Their energetic trade and investment activities, coupled with abundant cooperative prospects, make them an integral part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project continues its steady progression under this framework, while the Gwadar Port in Pakistan and Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port have catalyzed local industrial growth. Collaborative endeavors like Nepal’s airport renovation projects and the Maldives have also borne fruit, showcasing tangible outcomes of China’s dedication to regional connectivity and South Asian development.
In the face of adversities, be it natural disasters or global challenges like the financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, China and South Asian nations have consistently stood shoulder-to-shoulder, demonstrating unwavering solidarity and mutual support.