Sino-ASEAN in­dus­trial co­op­er­a­tion gains steam

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS -

NANNING — Chen Min, chair­man of Guangxi Ruian Lo­gis­tics Group, is look­ing for busi­ness part­ners from Brunei at the on­go­ing China-ASEAN Expo, as he pre­pares to set up a ha­lal food and spice fac­tory in the coun­try.

Chen has signed an agree­ment with Brunei to build the fac­tory that will process spices from the Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion and sell them to Mus­lim coun­tries, es­pe­cially in the Mid­dle East.

“We hope the spices will even­tu­ally ac­count for 20 per­cent of the amount sold world­wide,” Chen said, hop­ing to at­tract a good rep­u­ta­tion for Brunei’s ha­lal cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Like Chen, many en­trepreneurs have come to the expo in Nanning, cap­i­tal of Guangxi, look­ing for co­op­er­a­tion in in­dus­trial ca­pac­ity, di­rect in­vest­ment, project out­sourc­ing and tech­nol­ogy.

Themed “Co-Build­ing the 21st Cen­tury Mar­itime Silk Road, Pro­mot­ing Re­gional Eco­nomic In­te­gra­tion through Tourism,” this year’s expo at­tracted 2,709 ex­hibitors, up 1.5 per­cent from the pre­vi­ous event. Brunei is the Coun­try of Honor.

The As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions is China’s third-largest trad­ing partner, while China is ASEAN’s largest trad­ing partner. Bi­lat­eral trade ex­ceeded $452 bil­lion last year and the fig­ure hit $277 bil­lion from Jan­uary to July this year. By May, their ac­cu­mu­lated two-way in­vest­ment ex­ceeded $183 bil­lion.

In­dus­trial ca­pac­ity co­op­er­a­tion has been a hot topic at the event since 2015.

“Chi­nese equip­ment is cost ef­fi­cient, and it has ad­van­tages in tech­nol­ogy, train­ing and fi­nanc­ing, en­abling China and ASEAN coun­tries to nur­ture new com­par­a­tive ad­van­tages and cre­ate new room for eco­nomic growth,” Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli said on Tues­day while ad­dress­ing the open­ing cer­e­mony of the expo.

Chen’s busi­ness is a good match for Brunei, as the coun­try di­ver­si­fies its econ­omy and re­duces reliance on oil and gas.

Chi­nese com­pa­nies are more than wel­come to be part of Brunei’s tran­si­tion, Sul­tan Haji Has­sanal Bolkiah said when meet­ing en­trepreneurs. The ha­lal food in­dus­try is one of the sec­tors which would most ben­e­fit from for­eign in­vest­ment and ex­per­tise.

Guangxi has strong in­dus­trial ca­pac­ity, man­age­rial and in­vest­ment ex­pe­ri­ence while Brunei offers en­try into a fast-grow­ing global Mus­lim mar­ket, said the Sul­tan.

With prox­im­ity to ASEAN coun­tries, Guangxi is ex­pand­ing in­dus­trial co­op­er­a­tion with the group. Last year, com­pa­nies in the re­gion signed out­sourc­ing deals worth $415 mil­lion with economies in­volved in the Belt and Road, mainly ASEAN mem­bers, cov­er­ing house con­struc­tion, as well as pro­jects in power, traf­fic, water en­gi­neer­ing and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, ac­cord­ing to the re­gional com­merce depart­ment.

From Jan­uary to April, 12 coun­tries along the Belt and Road each signed out­sourc­ing pro­jects worth over $100 mil­lion with China, in­clud­ing seven from ASEAN coun­tries.

In­dus­trial ca­pac­ity co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and ASEAN has pro­ceeded much more smoothly, ac­cord­ing to Yao Hua, head of the Guangxi Academy of So­cial Sci­ences’ In­dus­trial In­sti­tute.

At this year’s expo, an ex­hi­bi­tion hall was ded­i­cated to in­telli- gent equip­ment, in­clud­ing drones, ro­bots, 3D prin­ters, and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion equip­ment, sig­nal­ing the el­e­vated level of the in­dus­trial co­op­er­a­tion, Yao said.

Some ASEAN coun­tries, whose man­u­fac­tur­ing re­mains at a low level, have high de­mands for China’s ad­vanced equip­ment and pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity, Yao said.

In the ex­hi­bi­tion hall, a Guangxi re­search in­sti­tute dis­played its award-win­ning ro­bot de­vel­oped in 2015 to clean in­dus­trial tanks. The ro­bots have been sold to sugar plants in Thai­land and were well re­ceived, said Wei Fuquan, a mar­ket­ing man­ager with the in­sti­tute.

“In fac­to­ries, more and more young peo­ple are re­luc­tant to do the job, be­cause clean­ing tanks with high-pres­sure hoses is hard and dan­ger­ous. Ro­bots do a much bet­ter job, with no risk to the work­ers,” Wei said.

Not sat­is­fied with just sell­ing the ro­bot, the in­sti­tute is in talks with Thai part­ners to man­u­fac­ture it there.

“We of­fer the tech­nol­ogy, they of­fer the la­bor,” Wei said.

Some large China-ASEAN pro­jects are go­ing well, in­clud­ing In­done­sia’s high-speed rail link con­nect­ing the cap­i­tal Jakarta with Ban­dung.

The rail­way will cut the jour­ney be­tween the two cities from over three hours to just 40 min­utes.

All tech­nol­ogy and equip­ment used in the project came from China, ac­cord­ing to the con­struc­tor China Rail­way.

The Malaysia-China Kuantan In­dus­trial Park, jointly de­vel­oped by Malaysia and China, is on track to achieve its in­vest­ment tar­get, ac­cord­ing to its chair­per­son Soam Heng Choon.

Soam said most of the in­vest­ment came from China and was mostly re­lated to en­ergy-sav­ing and en­vi­ron­men­tal tech­nol­ogy, high-end equip­ment and ad­vanced ma­te­ri­als man­u­fac­tur­ing.

We hope the spices will even­tu­ally ac­count for 20 per­cent of the amount sold world­wide.” Chen Min, chair­man of Guangxi Ruian Lo­gis­tics Group

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