Sultan tours Brunei Pavilion
By Alex How in Nanning

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam attended the opening ceremony of the 3rd China-Asean Expo (CAExpo), which is aimed at bringing benefits and boosting economic and trade ties between China and Asean at the Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Centre (ICEC), in Nanning, yesterday.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and the other Asean leaders including Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Lao Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh, Myanmar Prime Minister General Soe Win, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont attended the 3rd CAExpo.

After the opening ceremony, His Majesty made an official tour to the Brunei Pavilion.

His Majesty was greeted by Pehin Dato Dr Hj Awang Ahmad, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, and Brunei Tourism Director Sheikh Jamaluddin Sheikh Mohamed.

Also present were Robert Koh Hoe Kiat, President of Brunei Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Dr Hj Kamaruddin, President of Brunei-China Friendship Association, Momin Sawal, Head of Promotion and Facilitation Services cum Vice-Secretary General of China-Asean Expo, Ang Swee Chuan, Vice President of Brunei-China Friendship Association, and Hj Mohammed Said, Trade Secretary of Malay Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

His Majesty was briefed by Sheikh Jamaluddin.

Also visiting the pavilion was His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Pehin Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister II of Foreign Affairs and Trade, was also present.

His Majesty took a closer look at the 17th century shipwreck artifacts displayed at the Brunei Pavilion with the theme - 'Discover the Blue Side of Brunei Darussalam'.

This year, 167 Brunei delegates are attending the CAExpo.

The number of booths in the Brunei Pavilion has also increased. Some of the booths include Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB), Sabli's, Sahamada Corporation Sdn Bhd, Mahkota Crystal Sdn Bhd, Semaun Holdings, Noraini's Bakery, Sukma Indera, Musufiya Enterprise, Halaqah Sdn Bhd, Britmart Inflatables, Putri-Nis Enterprise, Mokam and Jerudong Park Medical Centre.

A replica of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque is also displayed at the pavilion.

His Majesty later consented to attend the opening ceremony of 3rd China-Asean Business and Investment Summit along with Premier Wen and other Asean leaders Tuesday morning.

Chinese Premier Wen said the Expo demonstrates the common aspiration of China and Asean to grasp opportunities for deepening cooperation, and serves as a platform to push forward substantial trade, investment and tourism cooperation.

He said this year marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of China-Asean dialogue relations, and that the past 15 years had seen tremendous development in economic and trade relationship between China and the regional bloc, with the two-way trade volume hitting US$130 billion last year, a15-fold growth from that in 1991.

"Two-way investments between China and Asean countries reached $40 billion in 2005," Wen said.

A series of plans, such as the efforts to set up the China-Asean free trade area, sub-regional cooperation and the FTA Early Harvest Program, are under way, he added.

Noting that huge potentials remain untapped in the bilateral economic and trade cooperation, Wen called for more active measures from both sides so as to achieve the goal of raising the two-way trade volume to $200 billion by 2010.

The envisaged China-Asean free trade area will have a population of 1.8 billion and a combined gross domestic product of $2 trillion when realised in 2015, the most populous and also the third largest free trade zone after the European Union and the United States. - Borneo Bulletin (1st Nov 2006)