ASEAN trade exhibition kicks off in China

A large-scale trade exhibition has kicked off in China featuring products from Southeast Asia. The four-day China-ASEAN Expo began on Friday in the southern city of Nanning.

China's Vice Premier Han Zheng emphasized that relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have entered a new stage. He touched on a regional trade agreement called RCEP that took effect this year. The pact includes ASEAN and other East Asian countries.

Han said, "We want to make the best use of this opportunity to create an open, cooperative, and friendly group, and work more closely with an ASEAN that shares the same destiny as us."
At the exhibition's many booths, business people from ASEAN and elsewhere held talks with Chinese customers.

Meanwhile, the US has agreed with a number of Asian countries to start negotiations later this month on a new economic partnership called the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, or IPEF. Observers say the US wants to shore up its economic ties with the region in response to China's growing presence.

But IPEF doesn't cover the reduction or elimination of tariffs. Experts say China may try to take advantage of this to deepen its trade and investment ties. ASEAN is China's largest trading partner.