China to strengthen cooperation with GMS

Updated: 2013-06-11 01:57

By Hu Yongqi and Guo Anfei in Kunming (China Daily)

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China is expanding investment and business cooperation with five countries in the Mekong River region, officials and entrepreneurs said at the China-South Asian Expo in Kunming, Yunnan province.

Greater Mekong sub-region (GMS) cooperation begun in 1992 among China and its five surrounding countries: Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia.

During the five-day Expo, which ended on Monday, participants from those countries presented suggestions to further exchanges and interaction with media, supply chains and regional integration.

Chinese companies signed contracts at the expo worth more than 3.2 billion yuan ($507 million) with counterparts from Laos, Cambodia and Thailand in transportation and energy, Du Junjun, deputy director of Yunnan provincial department of commerce and chairman of the Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Week, said on Sunday at a news conference in Kunming.

In the past several years, overseas demand declined sharply in China.

But in 2012, China's foreign trade with GMS countries grew by 18 percent while its overall foreign trade increased by 6.2 percent.

"Trade with GMS countries sharply rose by 25.8 percent during the first four months," said Xu Ningning, chairman of the GMS Business Council.

Initiated 21 years ago, the GMS cooperation has contributed to the rapid increase in trade within the framework. However, experts said the transportation and logistics in this area have lagged behind the integration process.

Businessmen and officials said over the weekend that e-commerce will continue to perform a critical role in promoting trade and exchanges between China and its GMS partners.

GMS member states founded a supply chain alliance and it has helped small and medium-sized enterprises with a well-developed service of online orders to ensure the sustainability of international trade, especially agricultural products.

Wang Liqing, assistant to the president of Yunnan United International Science and Technology Corp, said her company had been committed to serving small and medium-sized enterprises in GMS countries, especially those in Thailand and Laos. "So far, we have provided clients with local business information, trade finance, transportation, and insurance, so that all the processes of selling goods to China can be done more conveniently than before," Wang said.

Yunnan United International Science and Technology Corp opened an online trading system to facilitate transactions between foreign sellers and domestic buyers. "Trading on our platform will allow SMEs to have preferential tariff and exchange rates that they couldn't get as individual enterprises," Wang said.

Wang said she and her colleagues would also help foreign sellers check how the transactions were done and collect responses from buyers to help improve the precision of making production plans for next year.