Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh delivered remarks at the opening ceremony of the 11th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) in China’s Nanning city on September 16, describing the expo as a successful model of cooperation between the two sides.

Following is the full text of his remarks.

“Excellency Vice Premier Mr. Zhang Gao Li and distinguished leaders of ASEAN countries,
Ladies and gentlemen,

1. First of all, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Government of the People’s Republic of China, the Organising Committee of CAEXPO and the Zhuang Autonomous Region of Guangxi province for the excellent arrangements and warm hospitality extended to us.

2. A SEAN and China has had a long history of cooperation. Especially since ASEAN and China established relations more than 20 years ago, this relationship has developed by leaps and bounds, achieving remarkable growth in many areas such as political-security, trade, investment, transportation, science and technology, cultural and people-to-people exchanges…

Major progress in ASEAN-China partnership is attributable to the realisation among our leaders that our people’s aspiration for peace, stability and development could not be fully realized without the partnership of the other.

To realise such a vision and keep pace with the trend of deepening globalisation and integration in the 21st century, ASEAN has taken active steps to upgrade its partnership with China to a strategic level in 2003. This strategic move shows that the relationship goes beyond short-term interests to include common long-term strategic vision. Likewise, China has also brought forth many of its own initiatives, of which this CAEXPO is among many of the concrete initiatives.

3. As one of the fruits of ASEAN-China strategic partnership, the CAEXPO has entered its 11th year, proving to be a successful model of cooperation. As China’s neighbour, Vietnam has been a consistent and active member of the CAEXPO for the past ten consecutive years. This year, Vietnam has continued to have the largest number of enterprises participating in CAEXPO among ASEAN countries with more than 100 Vietnamese businesses showcasing their products and services in over 200 pavilions. We hope that through this CAEXPO, more business contracts will be signed, business partnerships established and transactions successfully done between ASEAN and China businesses.

And such kinds of efforts of our businesses have paid off. ASEAN and China have now become each other’s top trading and investment partners. To date, the two-way trade volume has expanded at an annual growth rate of more than 20 percent from 2009, with China being ASEAN’s largest trading partner since 2009, while ASEAN being China’s third largest trading partner since 2010.

This brings home the fact that the success of the ASEAN-China economic cooperation is greatly thanks to the efforts of enterprises. I would like to pay tribute to the important contributions of the businesses from ASEAN and China as both the beneficiary of and a decisive factor behind any successful regional integration initiatives.

At a broader level, we are also aiming higher. Notably, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) under negotiation between China, ASEAN and other partners will facilitate freer flows of goods, services, investment and people. This will bring tangible benefits for all, leading to the emergence of integrated value chains and a community of shared destiny in Asia. This calls for greater needs to have a peaceful and stable environment, a prerequisite for continued economic development in Asia. In this regard, it is essential that ASEAN and China work more closely together for the maintenance of peace, stability and maritime security in the South China Sea, and for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration of the conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), as well as the early achievement of the Code of Conduct (COC), on the basis of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

4. At this forum, we would like to reiterate our commitment to create all favorable conditions for Chinese and ASEAN enterprises to engage in long-term business and investment in Vietnam. We are committed to making greater efforts to strengthen the friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and ASEAN countries in the interest of a prosperous, peaceful and stable Asia.

5. In today’s changing regional and international landscape, it is of strategic importance for us to deepen our partnership to contribute to a stable and prosperous future for our people and the whole region.

To this end, let me propose the following priorities for our cooperation:

+ Accelerate the full and effective implementation of the Plan of Action 2011-2015, especially in priority areas such as enhanced connectivity, narrowing development gap, science and technology, pandemic prevention, and addressing emerging challenges such as climate change, disaster management, transnational crimes, and sustainable use of water resource in the Mekong basin etc.

+ Further promote inter-connectivity, including both hardware and software side. It is essential for us to increase people-to-people contacts, cultural exchange and institutional linkages for better mutual understanding and trust, which are the key elements for any long-lasting relationship.

+Make a better use of existing mechanisms to bolster our trade and investment cooperation, including the upgrading and effective implement ion of the ACFTA towards the set trade target of USD 500 billion by 2015 and USD 1 trillion by 2020, the greater utilization of CAEXPO in bridging two sides’ enterprises as well as the acceleration of RCEP negotiations.

Thank you”.-VNA