Beijing (China Daily/ANN) - Trade between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has developed rapidly over the past decade as the partnership was consolidated through strengthened mutual trust, deeper financial engagement and enormous benefits to people in countries across the region, said information provided by the Guangxi regional government.
In 2011, China became the largest trading partner of Asean for the third consecutive year as Asean replaced Japan to become China's third-largest trading partner.
The Southeast Asian region also maintained its position as the forth-biggest market for Chinese exports and the third-largest source of imports.
In the first half of the year, bilateral trade volume surpassed US$187 billion, up 10 per cent over the same period of last year.
By the end of June, cumulative investment between China and Asean totalled nearly $93 billion as Southeast Asia became an important destination for Chinese companies seeking overseas development.
China also offered financial support to Asean through funding and preferential credits to support construction of infrastructure, power stations and mining projects.
China has now made a total net investment of more than $18.8 billion in Asean member countries.
The investment from Asean to China has also grown at a remarkable pace, doubling to $7 billion in 2011 from $3.26 billion in 2002. By the end of June, Southeast Asian nations had invested a total of $73.8 billion in China, accounting for 6 per cent in China's total foreign capital.
The two sides established a giant free trade zone in 2010 incorporating 1.8 billion people, a quarter of the world's population.
The zone has accelerated liberalisation of trade and investment as well as the scale of cooperation over the past two years.
To mark the agreement, the Forum on China-Asean Free Trade Area was held in Nanning, Guangxi in the same year, resulting in 18 contracts worth about $4.9 billion. Industries involved included communication technologies, electric power and agriculture.
The China-Asean Expo is another venue that boosts cooperation. Co-hosted by trade and economic organisations, it has been held annually since 2004 and has attracted a total of 316,000 participants.
The previous expo saw trade volume reach $1.8 billion, an increase of 5.6 per cent over the year before, as 105 projects with a combined value of $7.4 billion were signed.
Each year's events include seminars for government leaders, ministers, experts, scholars and entrepreneurs who exchange views on issues of the day.
Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping will attend this year's Expo. Myanmar President U Thein Sein and Laos Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong are also expected to participate.