BEIJING — China saw expanding trade and investment ties with countries along the Belt and Road in the past five years, a senior official with the Ministry of Commerce said on Aug 27.
China’s total trade with countries along the Belt and Road in the past five years exceeded $5 trillion, with an annual average growth of 1.1 percent, in contrast to falling world trade, according to Qian Keming, vice-minister of commerce.
“China has become the largest trade partner for 25 of these countries,” he said at a news conference.
During the period, China’s combined direct investment in countries along the Belt and Road has grown by 7.2 percent annually on average, Qian noted.
He said 82 overseas economic and trade cooperation zones have been established in countries along the Belt and Road, with an accumulated investment of $28.9 billion.
The zones attracted nearly 4,000 enterprises, creating $2 billion of tax revenue for these countries and providing 244,000 local jobs.
China has also signed or upgraded five free trade agreements with 13 of these countries, according to Qian.
Proposed in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative envisions a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa.
Ning Jizhe, deputy head of the office of the leading group on advancing Belt and Road development, said China has signed 118 cooperation agreements with 103 countries, regions, and international organizations on developing the Belt and Road.
China will continue to follow the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits and advance the inclusive and high-quality development of the Belt and Road, according to Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Jun.
“We have full confidence in the prospects of the Belt and Road development,” Zhang said.