BEIJING: A large group of Indian businessmen and traders have taken part in China’s annual South Asia Expo which was inaugurated in the country’s southwest Kunming city today.

Indian Consulate General in Guangzhou Y K Sailas Thangal has inaugurated the special pavilions set up by Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) and Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) at the expo.

The event which is held for the forth time this year attracts traders from China, South and South East Asian countries and offers a platform to them to showcase and sell their goods as well as strike commercial deals.

India will organise an India-China conclave at the event tomorrow to highlight features of ‘Make in India’ and the investment opportunities, Thangal told PTI from Kunming.

The annual event besides being an exhibition is also a fair in which a number of items including handicrafts, handlooms and carpets are sold by businesses from India mainly from eastern region and other South Asian countries.

Chinese officials said about 5,000 enterprises from 89 countries and regions will participate in the ‘China-South Asia Expo’.

Businessmen and officials from Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan are taking part in the event which will close on June 17.

Kunming, provincial capital of Yunnan Province, is China’s gateway to South and South East Asia as it is located close to Myanmar.

It is the starting point of Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor which is part of China Silk Road initiative and shares close trade business and cultural links with Eastern India.

Last year, the value of signed deals at the expo stood at nearly $25.2 billion.

The organisers estimated that the volume this year could grow by at least 10 per cent, official media reported.

Chinese Commerce Ministry said last month that China’s investments in India, Pakistan and other South Asian countries climbed to $12.29 billion and the regional trade crossed $111 billion as BEIJING seeks to make inroads into the subcontinent with its Silk Road initiative.

By the end of 2015, China’s direct investment in South Asian countries stood at $12.29 billion and South Asia’s investment in China totalled $890 million, said China’s Vice Minister of the Ministry of Commerce Gao Yan.

Chinese investments in India grew six fold in 2015 to $870 million compared to 2014, state-run ‘Global Times’ reported last month.

Last year China’s trade with South Asia grew 4.9 per cent from the previous year to $111.22 billion.

The India-China bilateral trade totalled to $65.16 billion last year with trade deficit in favour of Beijing mounting to $48.68 billion.