Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on September 3 attended the 2013 ASEAN-China Expo (CAEXPO 2013) and the 10th ASEAN-China Business and Investment Summit (CABIS), which kicked off in Nanning city, Zhuang Autonomous Region in China’s Guangxi province.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, PM Dung noted that China has been the first and the most important external trading partner of the Association of South East Asian Nations.

After the two sides signed their Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation in 2002, a series of agreements were also inked, including those on trade in goods, trade in services, and on investment, completing all pillars of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA), the very first free trade area that ASEAN established with a partner state, he cited.

On this firm foundation, two-way trade between both sides has maintained speedy growth, averaging 22 percent per year. China has repeatedly been the largest trading partner of the bloc, while the former has been the latter’s third biggest trading partner, he said.

China’s direct investment in ASEAN member countries has been growing, while connectivity among businesses and people of both sides has been increasing, he added.

PM Dung said he is delighted that both ASEAN and China have made continuous efforts and initiatives to build an even better foundation for development.

He confirmed that Vietnam always supports and attaches much importance to the cooperation between ASEAN and China, while expressing his belief that the framework will help promote bilateral ties between Vietnam and China.

The Vietnamese Government also encourages and creates all possible conditions for Chinese enterprises as well as those from ASEAN to invest in Vietnam, he affirmed.

Vietnam also favours the consideration and discussion of the upgrade of the ACFTA to suit the common interests of both parties and for mutual development and benefit, he added.

The Vietnamese PM said together with multifaceted cooperation, all disputes and differences in the region need settling in a responsible and effective manner. Together, all parties should build mutual trust and political will and consult each other to take peaceful measures for the settlement on the basis of international law, while seeking suitable solutions that are accepted by all sides.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang underscored the significance of the events, which mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-ASEAN strategic partnership and fuel the two-way trade target of 500 billion USD before 2015.

He said the fruitful outcomes of the cooperation between China and ASEAN over the past time, which he described as beneficial for everyone involved, are of practical significance for the common development of both sides.

The Chinese Premier said strengthening cooperation with neighbouring nations in the bloc is a priority in the country’s external policy.

China always backs an ASEAN of strong development for peace, stability and prosperity in the region, he affirmed, adding that his country welcomes, encourages and creates favourable conditions for businesses from ASEAN to invest in China for the common benefit of both sides.

The annual CAEXPO, jointly held by China’s Ministry of Trade, the 10 ASEAN member countries and the ASEAN Secretariat, is considered one of the top ten Chinese exhibitions and become an important mechanism to promote friendship and trade ties among ASEAN member states and China.

As many as 110 Vietnamese enterprises showcased their products at 200 out of the 4,600 pavilions at the expo this year, more than any other participating ASEAN or regional country.

The expo is divided into five themed areas, with the highlight being the “Beautiful City” field featuring each nation’s major cities, including Quy Nhon city in Vietnam’s central Binh Dinh province.

The CABIS, initiated in 2004, is an important annual high-level forum between ASEAN and China, aiming to grow their strategic partnership and hastening the establishment of an ASEAN-China free trade area.

PM Dung arrived back in Hanoi later that day, concluding his trip to China.-VNA