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China, ASEAN push to team up on infrastructure

2014-09-19 10:21 Xinhua Web Editor: Qin Dexing

Officials from China and ASEAN proposed strengthening cooperation in infrastructure to boost regional growth during the 11th China-ASEAN Expo, which runs Sept. 16-19 in south China's Nanning City.

Pushpanathan Sundram, chairman of the China-ASEAN Business Association, said at a forum that infrastructure will serve as a "game changer" for countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China to achieve strong and sustained economic growth.

"The infrastructure financing need for ASEAN from 2010 to 2020 is about $600 billion, or an annual expenditure of $60 billion," said Sundram.

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli proposed at the opening ceremony that both sides should prepare for the establishment of an Asian infrastructure investment bank to address the financing bottleneck in the region.

China has stepped up its efforts to cooperate with ASEAN in infrastructure construction in recent years. Wang Yucheng, vice chairman of the China International Contractors Association, told Xinhua that ASEAN has been China's largest market for infrastructure project contracts in Asia for four consecutive years.

Official statistics showed that the accumulated contract value of Chinese enterprises in ASEAN's infrastructure market exceeded $180 billion by the end of June.

Electric power projects, housing construction and communications engineering are the top three fields in contract value.

Ling Zhijie is a Chinese contractor working in Cambodia. He went to Cambodia in 1997 and made his fortune by selling boilers. Now as the general manager of Zhongyuan Construction Company, the largest private construction enterprise in Cambodia, Ling employs more than 900 local workers.

"The largest project my company is undertaking has a value of $10 million," said Ling.

Infrastructure cooperation between China and ASEAN has already shown positive results, including the China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund. China established the fund with an ultimate target of providing 10 billion U.S. dollars for the country to invest in ASEAN.

Preferential loans totaling $6.7 billion were offered by China in 2009 to back more than 50 infrastructure projects in ASEAN countries. According to Sundram, China has recommended providing another $10 billion to contribute to ASEAN's infrastructure construction.

"The Chinese government encourages domestic enterprises to cooperate with ASEAN countries in infrastructure construction, which we believe will benefit both sides," said Chen Wenlin, an official from the Ministry of Commerce.

Chen said that in the next phase, China and ASEAN could strengthen cooperation in the areas of construction technology, standard, investment and financing, with a focus on building energy-saving infrastructure projects and upgrading inefficient ones.

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