The highway linking the town of Xinjie in Hekou County in southeastern Yunnan province with Lao Cai province in northern Vietnam was opened yesterday, marking completion of the first highway linking Yunnan with a neighboring country from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The 56.3 kilometer, 3.58 billion yuan Xinhe highway is one of the numerous infrastructure projects that will increase connectivity between Yunnan and ASEAN and facilitate the transport of people and goods between the two regions, which are expecting to see a major increase in tourism and trade in the coming years.
Yunnan is preparing to serve as a main gateway for trade between China and ASEAN, especially after the launch of the first phase of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) in 2010. CAFTA will be the world's largest free trade area in terms of population, with more than 1.8 billion people.
In 2007 trade between Yunnan and ASEAN grew nearly 40 percent year-on-year, totaling more than US$3.03 billion. Yunnan exports to ASEAN states reached US$2.17 billion last year, with Vietnam replacing Myanmar as Yunnan's top trading partner.