The Impetus for Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation
— Excerpts from Speech in Seminar on Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Delivered by Xu Ningning, Deputy Secretary General of CABC.
The cooperation between China and ASEAN countries has three levels. The first one is bilateral cooperation evidenced by the rapid bilateral economic cooperation between China and ASEAN countries in the past 15 years, such as Sino-Vietnam Cooperation and Sino-Singapore Cooperation. The second one is sub-region cooperation that contributes to the new growth point for the economic cooperation between China and ASEAN countries, such as Lancang River – GMS cooperation. The third one is the cooperation between China and the whole ASEAN that has become increasingly improved but may face the competition and challenge outside from the trade area. Nevertheless, the level of sub-region cooperation plays an important role in further solidifying the bilateral relationship between China and the ASEAN countries and the general relationship between China and the whole ASEAN. Comparatively, the sub-region cooperation is more operative. It will not easily cause sensitive competition outside the free trade area but will benefit the concerned countries of the sub-region, and thus will become one of the focuses of China-ASEAN development.
The Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation is equally of great significance in facilitating the China-ASEAN economic cooperation, the construction of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, the development of the Southwest China and the opening-up of China. As the new economic “Growth Pole” of China in connecting the ASEAN, the Pan-Beibu Gulf economic cooperation has gained the appreciation from the Central Government and the development and opening-up of the Beibu Gulf Economic Zone has gradually risen to the level of the national strategy. “Pan-Beibu Gulf” has become the hot point of public concerns. There are over 800 thousand of hits in BAIDU search for this phrase.
Guangxi laudably takes the lead in promoting the Pan-Beibu Gulf sub-region cooperation. In the government work reports of the current year, Guangxi, amongst many other provinces, expatiated the most contents of promoting the economic cooperation and trade with the Southeast Asia. This has fully demonstrated that, in the fields of foreign-oriented opening-up and economic development, Guangxi attaches great importance to the cooperation with the Southeast Asian countries and shows its great desire to take the opportunity of China-ASEAN Expo in cooperating with the ASEAN on long-term basis and avail itself of the business opportunities in CAFTA.
The General Agreement on Trade in Services of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area will take effect from July this year. This will be to the best advantage for Pan-Beibu Gulf sub-region cooperation such as in the fields of logistics construction (port, navigation etc.) and tourism cooperation and so on. The level of current service trade between China and ASEAN is still low, which, however, indicates that there exist great potentials of economic cooperation in the Pan-Beibu Gulf sub-region and will emerge numerous business opportunities with the market opening therein.
We must be fully aware of the importance, the protracted nature and the certain complexity of the Pan-Beibu Gulf economic cooperation that may involve the issues of the cooperative relationship between China and ASEAN countries and the territorial sovereignty and development of South China Sea as well.
In the scheme design and feasibility study of the Pan-Beibu Gulf economic cooperation, we must give full consideration of the following three aspects:
(i) The thoughts, willingness in cooperation and industrial characteristics of the relevant countries of the Pan-Beibu Gulf, especially the organic integration of the Pan-Beibu Gulf economic cooperation and ASEAN EAGA with the “Two Corridors, One Economic Belt”. Only when full considerations are given to the benefits of ASEAN and its member countries through consultation and mutual benefits on an equal footing, can the anticipated win-win objectives of the Pan-Beibu Gulf regional economic cooperation be achieved.
(ii) CAFTA construction and Pan-Beibu Gulf economic cooperation. In this regard, the latter should not only seize the opportunities brought by the market mutual opening of the former, but also give full considerations to the schedules, difficulties and problems of the opening markets of the former. Only in this way can the construction of CAFTA be catalyzed.
(iii) Complementarity of mutual benefits, coordination and cooperation in the Pan-Beibu Gulf economic cooperation among the relevant provinces such as Guangxi, Guangdong, Hainan and Yunnan etc.. Such includes how to organically consolidate the Pan-Beibu Gulf economic cooperation, the previously initiated Lancang River – GMS cooperation and the “9 + 2” regional cooperation.
Currently, the cooperation between China and ASEAN has the characteristics of full-scale cooperation, innovative cooperation, pragmatic cooperation and mutually beneficial cooperation. These characteristics will serve as an effective impetus for the Pan-Beibu Gulf regional cooperation if they are embedded in the Pan-Beibu Gulf economic cooperation.
China-ASEAN Expo, Vol. 5, 2007
The favorable economic development will facilitate the further economic cooperation and trade between China and ASEAN.