The 20th China Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Expo, scheduled for this September, aims to facilitate trade between China and ASEAN members. With the participation of over 40 countries and 1700 companies, this meeting holds immense potential for all attendees, including Pakistan. As an integral part of the Belt and Road Initiative, Pakistan can benefit greatly if China expands this initiative by focusing on trade developments among ASEAN members. This presents an immense opportunity for Pakistan to build agreements that strengthen its role in the region and promote independence from the West-led global economy.
In recent years, bilateral trade between China and ASEAN has experienced significant growth. In 2022 alone, it increased by 11.2 percent to reach $975.3 billion, growing 1.2 times over the past decade. China-ASEAN trade accounted for 15.5 percent of China’s foreign trade in 2022. Additionally, accumulated two-way investment between China and ASEAN members surpassed $380 billion as of July 2023. Amidst the challenging global trade environment, characterised by risks such as recession and decoupling, China-ASEAN economic and trade relations drive innovation and technological progress, optimising supply chains and cross-border trade platforms.
The upcoming expo is significant in marking the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative, where ASEAN has become a pilot demonstration zone for its development. Over the past 20 years, this trade fair has played a positive role in regional economic integration, transforming into an important open cooperation platform for China and ASEAN economies. Building upon this foundation, Pakistan can leverage its participation in the expo to enhance its economic ties with China and ASEAN members, further solidifying its position in the region.
The 20th China-ASEAN Expo presents an opportunity for Pakistan to capitalise on these robust trade relations. As the expo focuses on economic cooperation and integration, Pakistan can actively engage in discussions on specific trade agreements that align with its national interests. This involvement will not only enhance Pakistan’s economic ties with China and ASEAN members but also contribute to regional stability and development. This expo reinforces the importance of regional integration and highlights the potential for mutually beneficial partnerships.