Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo already arrived here in this southern city in China for the 10th China-Asean Expo (CAExpo) after confusion marred as to who will represent the country.
Domingo headed to the Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Center and toured the two-lane exhibition booths of the Philippines for the trade show which will be officially opened today.
He made a gesture of friendship with Chinese officials by striking native percussion instruments with them at the arch of the Philippine’s booth, before showing them products of Isabela, including corn, woodwork and agricultural products.
Domingo was not able to talk to media due to tight security enforced.
The cabinet secretary’s arrival here in China followed a string of confusion after President Benigno Aquino told reporters that he will lead the delegation for the trade event.
However, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced a day after that Aquino will not proceed anymore after China said that he could come “at a more conducive time.”
Vera Files reported that had the Foreign Affairs contacted Chinese officials and expedited pre-visit meeting for Aquino’s possible China tour, the chief executive would have been spared from embarrassment that China already asked for a “high-level” delegate to attend CAExpo.
Meanwhile, an official of the Asean Secretariat based in Jakarta, Indonesia urged greater understanding between China and the ten-nation region as figures show that trade relations between these economies have been robust for quite a long time.
During the press briefing on Wednesday, Li Jianxong, director of the community affairs development of the Asean Secretariat, bared figures which he described as telling “a very important story.”
According to him, the bilateral trade between Asean and China in 2003 registered at $54.7 billion. Last year, the figure significantly grew to $400 billion.
In 2000, the per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms of Asean marked at $2,882, while $2,379 in China. By 2011, Asean’s per capita GDP in PPP terms shot to $5,581 US dollars, while China rocketed to $8,387.
“These numbers tell us a very important story. The good relations between Asean and China had created a very conducive environment for us to develop our economies,” Li said.
Analysts like the International Monetary Fund and The Economist listed China and a number of Asean countries as emerging economies or those nations with social or business activities in rapid growth and industrialization.
China and India are the biggest emerging economies. In the Asean block, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam are considered for their potential for growth.
Statistics culled from Asean website showed that China remains to be the strongest partner of the ten-nation region.
As of November 2012, exports from Asean to China posted at $127.9 billion or 10.3 percent of total exports. Imports of Asean countries from China valued at $157.4 billion or 13.3 percent of total imports. China’s total trade with the Asean is at $280.4 billion or 11.7 percent of its total trade.
Aviation analysts believe that by 2035, the Asia Pacific could boasts some 5 billion air travellers, which is bigger than the North American markets, Li said.
He added that Asean nations are able to tap on China as the “engine of growth” in the Asia-Pacific region.
Li added Asean and China must continue to build on the foundation that the region had established, and strengthen it further.
“The sum total of this is a general rise in the standards of living in our region. That, ultimately, is the common objective of Asean and China. It also reinforces the message that peace and stability are essential before we talk about prosperity for our people,” Li said. JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON