URUMQI, Sep. 1 (Xinhua) -- The Urumqi Trade Fair, China's only trade fair with a focus on central, west and south Asia, will be upgraded to a state-level expo next year to enhance China's ties with neighboring countries.
State Councilor Liu Yandong made the announcement Wednesday at the opening of the 19th Urumqi Trade Fair here, the capital city of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
She said under the name China-Asia-Europe Expo, the trade fair will turn Xinjiang into a platform to enhance China's ties with neighboring countries.
Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said his ministry will coordinate with relevant government departments to support Xinjiang's opening-up.
The annual trade fair, the largest this year, has 117 booths booked by businessmen from 22 overseas countries and regions, including Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Turkey and Kazakhstan, said He Yiming, director of Xinjiang's bureau of commerce.
The number of booths is 60 percent more than at the previous trade fair last year, which was held two months after a deadly riot in the city.
Among the participating countries this year, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Greece made their first appearance at the fair.
The trade fair covers a floor space of 30,000 square meters. There are 712 booths for domestic trade groups.
Xinjiang plans to open 151 projects for investment at the fair.