The Belt and Road Initiative Continuous to Deepen Trade Cooperation
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.