Trade volume between China and countries along the Belt and Road in 2017 amounted to US$1.1 trillion, up 14.8 percent year-on-year, according to a report published in People’s Daily on Monday. That is equivalent to the entire annual GDP of Indonesia or Mexico, and is 3.4 percentage points higher than the growth of China’s overall total foreign trade.
Citing a more diversified Chinese investment portfolio, the Chinese Minister of Commerce, Zhong Shan, said that China had altogether invested over US$60 billion to en-route countries in several sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and infrastructure. He stated that various big ticket projects were making steady progress as well, including the construction of railways, expressways and ports, cooperation programs on energy and resources, and the operation of manufacturing projects.
China has established 75 zones for economic and trade cooperation in countries along the routes, with a total investment of more than US$27 billion.
For the next step, Zhong said that MOFCOM will launch new cooperation platforms including the first China International Import Expo, build major investment and foreign aid projects, and make them “well received like shiny pearls” along the Belt and Road. China will also facilitate e-commerce through big data, promote the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment along the Belt and Road, and implement major foreign aid projects.
“The results show what we have been saying for some time”, says Chris Devonshire-Ellis of Dezan Shira & Associates. “China’s outbound investment is largely focused on neighboring countries and developing the Belt and Road. However, the scale of the multilateral trade is impressive and points to investment and development opportunities across the Belt and Road routes. As always, businesses wishing to get involved should follow the money. China’s money and the subsequent development opportunities that provides – is going into the Belt and Road to the tune of US$1 trillion per annum. All multinational businesses should be interested in grabbing a percentage of that.”
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