The ASEAN secretariat urged China to explore cooperation in digital finance, bioscience and aviation with the regional bloc, while encouraging the business community to play a role in enhancing collaboration between the Southeast Asian nations and the world’s second-largest economy.

ASEAN secretary-general Kao Kim Hourn made the call during his September 18 meeting with Zhang Shaogang, vice-chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), on the sidelines of the 20th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) and China-ASEAN Business Leaders Forum in Nanning, the capital city of China’s Guangxi autonomous region. Also present in the meeting was Yang Yan Yan, chairwoman of CCPIT Guangxi.

“[Kim Hourn] encouraged CCPIT to share best practices in utilising RCEP [Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership] with businesses in ASEAN and to explore cooperation in the area of digital finance, bioscience and aviation,” said the secretariat in a statement.

“He shared key areas whereby the business community can play a pivotal role in enhancing cooperation between ASEAN and China, such as supply chain connectivity, digitalisation and green economy,” it added.

As co-moderator of the programme, Kim Hourn cut the symbolic ribbon to officially open the expo on September 16, in the presence of ASEAN leaders. He also remarked on the positive developments that the event brought to the people of the region.

At his September 15 meeting with Guangxi leaders, Kim Hourn acknowledged the autonomous region’s initiatives in strengthening the ASEAN-China economic relations and highlighted how the high connectivity between Guangxi and ASEAN presents further opportunities in trade, investment and tourism,” according to the statement.

During his September 15 visit to Nanning Shuangding Eco-Industrial Park, Kim Hourn was briefed on the company’s efforts to address the issue of waste while generating energy for millions of households in China.

He encouraged the corporation to identify potential areas of cooperation with ASEAN, particularly in green energy, to further promote sustainability efforts.

On the same day, he met with CAEXPO secretary-general Wei Zhaohui and highlighted how the expo is an effective business matching avenue for ASEAN enterprises and a platform for ASEAN micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to enter Chinese markets.

He expressed his assurances that the ASEAN secretariat stands ready to support the convening of CAEXPO.

During his meeting with Cambodian Minister of Commerce Cham Nimul on the sidelines of the expo that day, the secretary-general said he looks forward to continued support from the Kingdom in further advancing ASEAN economic integration.

He also discussed major infrastructure projects in ASEAN with Chen Yun, chairman of China Railway Group Limited (CREC). They spoke about possible support and services from CREC to improve connectivity and infrastructure in the region.

On September 17, Cambodia and China signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on strategic cooperation between China’s Artwell Tapioca Limited and Cambodia’s ID Capital PLC and Advance Digital World Trade Co Ltd to export dried cassava to China in three phases within an eight-year period.

During a side event on opening up new regional economic growth on the same day, Kim Hourn shared insights on how the economic partnership between ASEAN and China could be further maximised.