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‘Belt & Road’ could benefit small business owners

In northwest China’s Shaanxi province, a wide range of Kazakhstan-made products are available, including beautiful and exotic handicrafts, porcelains, carpets, and camel hair cushions. They were rarely seen in China before the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013.

Business opportunities are on the rise in the province, and all kinds of products from countries along proposed routes in China are for sale. A small shopping mall has exhibition halls showcasing the most popular items. Anita and her husband are the owners of products in the Kazakhstan hall. She says Chinese goods are in very high demand in Central Asia.

In May, Anita and her husband invited a local trade group to visit Kazakhstan. They now mainly deal with business exchanges between China and Kazakhstan.

But their business is not just limited to Central Asia. Thailand, one of the world’s biggest tourism destinations, has long been famous for tourism products. It is also a very important part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Anita and her husband want to purchase some Thai soap samples made with essential oils. They said these can be sold for a lot of money in Central Asia. And a young man who owns a stall in Thailand exhibition hall has ideas about expanding his business along the proposed route.

Russian handicrafts sell well in China because of their elegant shapes and design. They are also attractive because of the long history of people-to-people exchanges that made Chinese people fond of their products.

For all business owners, opportunities are on the rise. Experts say China’s annual trade with countries along the route could reach $2.5 trillion in 10 years. Barclays Research says that these countries collectively accounted for 22 percent of Chinese exports last year and supplied 37 percent of China’s commodity imports.

Chinese economists say that the Belt and Road Initiative will be a significant turning point for the Chinese economy. It can help promote infrastructure and industrial transfer among different localities, and provide more opportunities for entrepreneurs.