China and South Asia's extensive collaboration and their highly complementary trade structure will be crucial drivers of economic and social development on both sides, Chinese officials said on Tuesday.
China, as the largest developing country, and South Asia, as a fast-growing region, have consistently fostered broad cooperation across sectors, spanning regional connectivity, infrastructure enhancement and industrialization, they said.
They made the remarks ahead of the Seventh China-South Asia Expo, which will be held from August 16 to 20 in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province in Southwest China.
The country will enhance economic and trade ties with South Asian nations by organizing trade and investment facilitation-themed meetings, hosting trade fairs and developing cross-border e-commerce businesses.
China also aims to integrate the digital and real economies going forward, Li Fei, vice-minister of commerce, told a news conference in Beijing.
About 60 countries and regions have registered to participate in the expo so far, achieving full representation from countries in South Asia, Southeast Asian nations and member countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, said Yang Bin, vice-governor of Yunnan province.
The expo will feature 15 exhibition halls, including a biomedicine and healthcare pavilion, a resource economy pavilion and a regional cooperation pavilion, with a total area of 150,000 square meters, showcasing both offline and online content simultaneously, according to the event organizer.
The total trade value between China and countries in the South Asian region was less than $100 billion in 2013. However, it touched $197.4 billion in 2022, demonstrating an average annual growth rate of 8.3 percent, the Ministry of Commerce said.
China has become the primary trade partner for South Asian countries and has consistently been the largest trading partner of Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Exports of aquatic products, tea, nuts and other commodities from South Asian countries to China have been increasing continuously.
Kunming-based CRCC High-Tech Equipment Co Ltd, a subsidiary of State-owned China Railway Construction Corp Ltd, delivered more than half of the 71 units of heavy railway maintenance equipment to South Asia in early July.
Kang Yanjun, vice-president of CRCC High-Tech Equipment, said the demand for heavy railway maintenance equipment from South Asian nations has been significant in recent years due to extensive railway network and infrastructure modernization in some of these countries. The company said it will continue to expand its presence in this fast-growing regional market.
In addition to spearheading transformative infrastructure projects like railways, hospitals, power plants, and bulk and container ports, a proactive investment strategy by Chinese companies has resulted in notable global progress in various domains, such as trade in services, new foreign trade formats, and digital and green growth, said Wang Liping, director-general of the Department of Asian Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce.
These activities are expected to play a key role in stimulating economies and job markets in South Asian nations, he said.