The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive Con­tin­u­ous to Deepen Trade Co­op­er­a­tion

China's Foreign Trade (English) - - Special Report - By Qi Li

On April 12th, the Belt and Road Fo­rum for Trade and In­vest­ment was hosted jointly in Bei­jing by the China Coun­cil for the Pro­mo­tion of In­ter­na­tional Trade (CCPIT), the China Cham­ber of In­ter­na­tional Com­merce (CCOIC), and the World Cham­ber Fed­er­a­tion ( WCF). Co­op­er­a­tion in trade and in­vest­ment is the key to pro­mot­ing the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, and par­tic­i­pants of the fo­rum from 72 coun­tries and re­gions gath­ered to­gether to dis­cuss how to ex­pand co­op­er­a­tion in trade and in­vest­ment re­ly­ing on the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive. Fruit­ful eco­nomic and trade re­sults

“As Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping pointed out on April 10th at the Boao Fo­rum for Asia, the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive was put for­ward by China, but the op­por­tu­ni­ties and achieve­ments it cre­ates be­long to the world. Its con­struc­tion projects will span re­gions of dif­fer­ent de­vel­op­ment lev­els and dif­fer­ent civ­i­liza­tions. By now, the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive has be­come the most pop­u­lar global pub­lic ini­tia­tive cre­ated by joint ef­fort by all par­ties, and is also the most ex­ten­sive in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion plat­form con­form­ing to the trend of eco­nomic glob­al­iza­tion. At present, more than 140 coun­tries and re­gions have ac­tively re­sponded to and par­tic­i­pated in the con­struc­tion of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, while more than 80 coun­tries and in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions have signed co­op­er­a­tion agree­ments with China,” Gao Yun­long, Vice Chair­man of the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence (CP­PCC) and Chair­man of the All-china Fed­er­a­tion of In­dus­try and Com­merce (ACFIC), said in his key­note speech. In the past four years, the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive has achieved ex­cit­ing early re­sults. For ex­am­ple, the Nairobi-mom­basa Stan­dard Gauge Rail­way in Kenya was laid and put into op­er­a­tion, the Greek port of Pi­raeus was built into an im­por­tant tran­sit hub, China-rus­sia crude oil pipe­lines were com­pleted, and more than 7,600 China-europe line trains have launched. In gen­eral, the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive has ef­fec­tively fa­cil­i­tated the de­vel­op­ment of in­vest­ment. From 2014 to 2017, the trade vol­ume be­tween China and coun­tries and re­gions par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive to­taled USD 4.2 tril­lion, in­vest­ment in re­lated coun­tries and re­gions by Chi­nese en­ter­prises topped USD 64 bil­lion, and China es­tab­lished 75 over­seas eco­nomic and trade co­op­er­a­tion zones with rel­e­vant coun­tries and re­gions, con­tribut­ing tax rev­enues of more than USD 2.2 bil­lion to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, as well as more than 200,000 new jobs. Mean­while, the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank in­creased the num­ber of its mem­ber states to 84, and car­ried out 24 in­fra­struc­ture projects in 12 mem­ber coun­tries and re­gions, mak­ing loans of more than USD 4.2 bil­lion. The Silk Road Fund has also signed con­tracts for 17 projects, with a promis­ing in­vest­ment of ap­prox­i­mately USD 7 bil­lion.

Co­op­er­a­tion in trade and in­vest­ment is an im­por­tant part of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive. Jiang Zeng­wei, Chair­man of the CCPIT, said at the fo­rum that the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive cre­ates an open and in­clu­sive in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tive plat­form, and re­ceives ac­tive re­sponses from and par­tic­i­pa­tion of gov­ern­ments, in­dus­trial and com­mer­cial en­ter­prises, trade and in­vest­ment pro­mo­tion agen­cies, busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tions, and re­lated in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions, ben­e­fit­ing more and more peo­ple in par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries and re­gions. Qian Kem­ing, Vice Min­is­ter of the Chi­nese Min­istry of Com­merce, stated in his speech that the trade vol­ume be­tween China and coun­tries and re­gions along the Belt and Road has ex­ceeded USD 5 tril­lion for the years from 2013 to 2017, and di­rect over­seas in­vest­ment by Chi­nese en­ter­prises topped USD 70 bil­lion. At the same time, this has pro­moted the con­struc­tion of 75 trade and eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion zones in rel­e­vant coun­tries and re­gions, con­tribut­ing tax rev­enues of USD 2.2 bil­lion to host coun­tries and re­gions, and cre­at­ing 210,000 jobs. Zhou Xiaofei, Deputy Sec­re­tary-gen­eral of China’s Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion, stated that the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive has made ex­cit­ing achieve­ments in lit­tle more than four years, es­pe­cially in terms of in­fra­struc­ture and in­ter­con­nec­tion. A num­ber of land­mark projects have made smooth progress, such as fully launch­ing the op­er­a­tion of the China-laos Rail­way, the first phase of the China-thai­land Rail­way, the Vakhdat-yovon High­Speed Rail­way, the Hun­gar­ian-ser­bia Rail­way, the MRL East Coast Rail Link, the phase two up­grad­ing of the Karako­ram High­way, the Pe­shawar-karachi Mo­tor­way project, the Nairobi-mom­basa rail­way, and the con­struc­tion of ports like Gwadar Port. Un­til now, 7,600 trains have al­ready run on the China-europe line, in­clud­ing 3,600 jour­neys made last year link­ing 41 cities in 13 coun­tries, in­clud­ing Rus­sia, Ger­many, Spain and Poland. Main­tain­ing smooth trade links and cap­i­tal flow

At the re­cent Boao Fo­rum for Asia, Chi­nese pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping em­pha­sized that China will never close the door to the world, but will con­tinue to im­ple­ment more open poli­cies in­stead. He also an­nounced a se­ries of ma­jor mea­sures to ex­pand the open­ing up. As an im­por­tant stim­u­lus for global eco­nomic growth, trade and in­vest­ment also play an im­por­tant role in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive. As the Belt and Road con­struc­tion con­tin­ues, how can we fur­ther pro­mote trade and in­vest­ment co­op­er­a­tion for bet­ter and smoother trade links and cap­i­tal flow?

At present, the con­struc­tion of the Belt and Road has come to an im­por­tant pe­riod of in­ten­sive cul­ti­va­tion and solid ad­vance­ment. Gao Yun­long, Vice Chair­man of the CP­PCC and chair­man of ACFIC, put for­ward four rec­om­men­da­tions.

First, strength­en­ing strate­gic co­or­di­na­tion and pol­icy guar­an­tees for the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive. At present, the gov­ern­ments in dif­fer­ent coun­tries and re­gions have for­mu­lated their own de­vel­op­ment strate­gies in ac­cor­dance with lo­cal con­di­tions, in or­der to boost eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment. Such strate­gies have dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics in var­i­ous sys­tems, but the goals are sim­i­lar, and they can work well to­gether. In the past few years, China has worked hard to co­or­di­nate its strate­gies with those of the rel­e­vant coun­tries and re­gions, in­clud­ing the Eurasian Eco­nomic Union by Rus­sia, the Mas­ter Plan on Con­nec­tiv­ity by ASEAN, and the Bright Road by Kaza­khstan, to re­al­ize greater achieve­ments through co­op­er­a­tion than one by one. In the fu­ture, China will con­tinue to col­lab­o­rate with other strate­gic part­ners to cre­ate new tech­nolo­gies, new in­dus­tries, and new mod­els for syn­er­gies and joint de­vel­op­ment. At the same time, China will fur­ther im­prove the co­op­er­a­tion mech­a­nisms for de­vel­op­ing re­gional co­op­er­a­tion plans and mod­els, thus pro­vid­ing solid pol­icy sup­port for prag­matic co­op­er­a­tion and large-scale project im­ple­men­ta­tion.

Se­cond, pro­mot­ing in­fra­struc­ture con­nec­tiv­ity and paving the way for the con­struc­tion of the Belt and Road. In­fra­struc­ture con­nec­tiv­ity is key to the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, and a num­ber of land­mark projects have al­ready been com­pleted or are cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion. All rel­e­vant par­ties are fo­cus­ing on key routes, key cities and key projects, and on strength­en­ing co­op­er­a­tion in sec­tors such as rail­ways, high­ways, avi­a­tion, wa­ter trans­porta­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, elec­tric power, and es­pe­cially pipe­line net­works and en­ergy in­ter­con­nec­tion, so as to jointly build a mod­ern in­fra­struc­ture sys­tem, im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tion re­gard­ing poli­cies, stan­dards and le­gal sys­tems, ad­vance the es­tab­lish­ment of a uni­fied trans­port co­or­di­na­tion mech­a­nism, fa­cil­i­tate in­ter­con­nec­tion and trans­porta­tion, and al­low for the smooth flow of goods and peo­ple, thus pro­vid­ing a good en­vi­ron­ment and bet­ter ef­fi­ciency for trains on the China-europe line.

Third, deep­en­ing eco­nomic and trade co­op­er­a­tion and ex­pand­ing the in­flu­ence of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive. Trade and in­vest­ment are im­por­tant en­gines for eco­nomic growth. China ad­vo­cates main­tain­ing mul­ti­lat­eral trad­ing sys­tems, ac­cel­er­at­ing free trade, and the lib­er­al­iza­tion and fa­cil­i­ta­tion of trade and

In the past few years, China has worked hard to co­or­di­nate its strate­gies with those of the rel­e­vant coun­tries and re­gions, in­clud­ing the Eurasian Eco­nomic Union by Rus­sia, the Mas­ter Plan on Con­nec­tiv­ity by ASEAN, and the Bright Road by Kaza­khstan, to re­al­ize greater achieve­ments through co­op­er­a­tion than one by one.

in­vest­ment, in or­der to seek out new growth points, op­ti­mize trade struc­tures, ex­pand trade scope, in­no­vate trade mod­els, and pro­mote sta­ble growth. Gov­ern­ments should en­cour­age eco­nomic and trade co­op­er­a­tion, turn­ing the ex­changes of com­modi­ties into mu­tual in­vest­ment, and form­ing a mu­tu­ally stim­u­lat­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween trade and in­vest­ment. China is will­ing to con­tinue con­struct­ing eco­nomic and trade co­op­er­a­tion zones with rel­e­vant coun­tries and re­gions to de­velop a num­ber of in­dus­trial clus­ters that can meet lo­cal needs for in­dus­trial up­grades, and which can pro­vide economies of scale, ob­vi­ous ra­di­a­tion ef­fects, and strong in­dus­try driv­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Fourth, se­cur­ing cap­i­tal flow to sup­port con­struc­tion of the Belt and Road. Fi­nance is the “blood” of the mod­ern econ­omy. As the trade and eco­nomic re­la­tions be­tween coun­tries and re­gions par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive con­tin­u­ously grow closer, the de­mand for fi­nan­cial ser­vices will also grow quickly. Rel­e­vant coun­tries and re­gions should fur­ther go on to in­no­vate in­ter­na­tional and di­ver­si­fied in­vest­ment and fi­nanc­ing mod­els, en­cour­age cap­i­tal co­op­er­a­tion and joint project fi­nanc­ing, and es­tab­lish a fi­nan­cial sys­tem for the con­struc­tion of the Belt and Road. China rec­og­nizes that new fi­nan­cial mech­a­nisms, such as the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank, can strengthen co­op­er­a­tion with tra­di­tional mul­ti­lat­eral fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions like the World Bank, in or­der to pro­vide bet­ter fi­nan­cial ser­vices.

The Vice Min­is­ter of Com­merce Qian Kem­ing said that, in terms of in­no­vat­ing trade and in­vest­ment co­op­er­a­tion modes, the Min­istry of Com­merce will ex­e­cute a Belt and Road co­op­er­a­tion plan so as to build the num­ber of lead­ing projects of the Mar­itime Silk Road, and to make eco­nomic con­tri­bu­tions and play a lead­ing role in the world econ­omy, while also de­vel­op­ing Silk Road e-busi­nesses to help coun­tries and re­gions re­act to the trend of glob­al­iza­tion. Be­sides this, China will also pro­mote re­gional eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion and the con­struc­tion of free trade zones to deepen re­gional co­op­er­a­tion. Busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tions should fully em­brace their roles

At the open­ing cer­e­mony, Jiang Zeng­wei, Chair­man of the CCPIT, ex­plained that in 2013, Chi­nese pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping pro­posed an ini­tia­tive to jointly build one “Belt” and one “Road”, namely the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive. “Nearly five years later, we are pleased to see the im­prove­ments in pol­icy com­mu­ni­ca­tion, in­fra­struc­ture con­nec­tiv­ity, trade links, cap­i­tal flow and un­der­stand­ing of peo­ples.” Now the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive has be­come an open and in­clu­sive in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion plat­form, which re­ceives ex­ten­sive sup­port and ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion from var­i­ous gov­ern­ments, busi­ness and in­dus­trial play­ers, trade and in­vest­ment pro­mo­tion agen­cies, busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tions and rel­e­vant in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions. More and more coun­tries and re­gions and en­ter­prises have ben­e­fited from the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, and there is more ev­i­dence prov­ing that it con­forms to the trend of win-win co­op­er­a­tion and the need for com­mon de­vel­op­ment, which se­cures bright de­vel­op­ment prospects for it, not only in China, but also across the world.

“If the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive is a big ship of in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion, the en­trepreneurs are the sailors. Why can a big ship ride the wind and waves? En­trepreneurs of var­i­ous coun­tries are the key,” Jiang Zeng­wei said. For the con­struc­tion of the Belt and Road, gov­ern­ments should be the main driv­ing force, play­ing an ir­re­place­able role in plan­ning and guid­ing, build­ing or im­prov­ing busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment, and pro­tect­ing le­git­i­mate rights and in­ter­ests. Trade and in­vest­ment pro­mot­ing agen­cies and en­ter­prises are im­ple­menters of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, while build­ing a plat­form for all par­ties is the re­spon­si­bil­ity and obli­ga­tion of trade pro­mo­tion agen­cies. The pro­mo­tion agen­cies and en­ter­prises should ac­tively par­tic­i­pate in the con­struc­tion un­der the pro­mo­tion of gov­ern­ments. He hopes that these busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tions can con­trib­ute their wis­dom and strength to boost the con­struc­tion of the Belt and Road.

Peter Mi­hok, Chair­man of the ICC World Cham­bers Fed­er­a­tion, said that, as a bridge be­tween gov­ern­ments, en­ter­prises, and so­ci­eties, these busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tions should play a more im­por­tant role in help­ing strengthen the co­op­er­a­tion. Through this fo­rum, it is ex­pected that a co­op­er­a­tive net­work can be built across all coun­tries and re­gions par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, bring­ing mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial co­op­er­a­tion to a new level, and con­tribut­ing to the de­vel­op­ment of the global econ­omy.

Ac­cord­ing to Mi­hok, com­merce cham­bers have been sup­port­ing glob­al­iza­tion in host­ing coun­tries and re­gions, while also of­fer­ing rel­e­vant pol­icy sug­ges­tions, and speak­ing for them­selves in or­ga­ni­za­tions like the WTO, G20 and so on. He hopes that the in­dus­trial and com­mer­cial cir­cles can unify to let SMES play their roles. “I am try­ing to cre­ate a bet­ter en­vi­ron­ment for busi­nesses and en­trepreneurs. In the past few cen­turies, the role of com­merce cham­bers has been con­stantly chang­ing, and en­ter­prises are more im­por­tant than ever,” he said.

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