BEIJING: The 18th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) set to begin in Nanning, China from September 10 will keep providing new business and development opportunities for China and Pakistan. “As an important platform for exchange and cooperation between China, ASEAN countries and the countries along the Belt and Road, the China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) has played a key role for the economic and trade cooperation development between Pakistan and China and ASEAN countries,” according to a statement issued by Secretariat of Expo on Wednesday. It said, located at northwest of the South Asian Subcontinent, Pakistan plays an important role to implement the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). With the purpose to support the implementation of BRI, the 18th CAEXPO sets up a Belt and Road international exhibition area to host BRI related forums and economic and trade events, which serves as a key platform for China to strengthen its exchange and cooperation with the countries along the BRI. For many years, Pakistan has been an active participant of the CAEXPO to promote its specialty products, seek cooperative partners, and tap into the Chinese and ASEAN markets. A total of 64 Pakistani official bodies and enterprises have used 122 booths since the 13th CAEXPO to showcase its national image, top carpets, wood furniture, handicrafts and other specialty products. Through this platform, Pakistan has achieved remarkable results. Pakistan participated in the 17th CAEXPO as a Special Partner Country for the first time, set up a national product exhibition area to showcase its superior products and achievements in the key industries, and hosted a number of events including the Pakistan Trade and Investment Promotion Conference. All these efforts have promoted the economic and trade exchanges and cooperation between Pakistan and China and ASEAN countries. President Arif Alvi addressed the 17th China-ASEAN Expo Opening Ceremony and pointed out in his speech that he believed the CAEXPO would provide help for the trilateral trade expansion between China, ASEAN countries and Pakistan. China-Pakistan bilateral trade has kept growing, the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries has made significant progress, and their mutually beneficial cooperation has expanded and deepened during the past few years. According to the statistics of China’s Ministry of Commerce, between January and June of 2021, China-Pakistan trade volume reached $12.56 billion, a year-on-year growth of 63.0%, among which China’s exports to Pakistan accounted for $10.83 billion, an increase of 60.1% from last year; and China’s imports from Pakistan reached $1.73 billion, up 83.6% from last year. With the further development of China-Pakistan all-weather strategic partnership and high-speed advancement of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the bilateral trade has achieved fruitful results. The share of the mutually zero-tariff items has gradually risen to 75% from 35% since the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (CPFTA) was signed in 2006. The bilateral trade volume grew from $7 billion in 2008 to $17.49 billion in 2020. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor development is booming with a total investment of 62 billion yuan, covering sea ports, roads, energy and other key projects. Standing at a new historical starting point of the 70 years of diplomatic relations, the two countries will continue to cooperate closely, advance the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, and further deepen their all-weather strategic partnership. When China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held the 3rd round of China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue, he pointed out China stands ready to work with Pakistan to take the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations as an opportunity to accelerate the construction of a closer community with a shared future in the new era, bring more benefits to the peoples of two countries and make greater contributions to regional stability and prosperity. The upcoming CAEXPO will be held with a theme of “Sharing Opportunities Created by the New Land-Sea Corridor, Building the China-ASEAN Community with a Shared Future”. This year’s CAEXPO will adopt a mixed model of “Physical + On-line CAEXPO” for the second time to further advance the cooperation between China and BRI countries including Pakistan. At the 18th CAEXPO, Pakistan, with an exhibition area of 81 square meters, will showcase its national image and organize 15 Pakistani companies to show carpet, marble, wood handicrafts and other products of the country with 28 booths. It will also organize events in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the 2021 Forum on China-Pakistan Economic and Trade Cooperation, and the Inauguration Ceremony for the Entry of Pakistani Side into the China-ASEAN Characteristic Commodities Center and other Special Partner Country events. By capitalizing the opportunity of 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, the upcoming CAEXPO is aimed at bringing the bilateral trade to a new height and further deepening the ironclad China-Pakistan friendship.