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Overseas trade zones serve as model to boost economy

By CHEN YINGQUN | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-22 10:50
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Containers are organised in stacks at the Yangshan Deep Water Port, part of the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone in Shanghai on Feb 13, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

China could share its successful experience of the past 40 years with countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative by running industrial zones in these countries, a senior United Nations official said.

In late 1990s, China started to build economic and trade zones overseas, and had 113 such zones by last November. They have attracted a total of $42.14 billion in investment and paid $3.24 billion in taxes to host countries. A total of 302,000 jobs have been created in these countries, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Xu Haoliang, assistant secretary-general of the United Nations, said: "Today these Chinese overseas economic and trade cooperation zones can serve as one of the platforms for facilitating investment and trade cooperation to promote the Belt and Road Initiative." Xu is also director of the UN Development Programme's regional bureau for Asia and the Pacific.

Those zones are defined by the Ministry of Commerce as industrial parks that are independent legal entities and receive investment from and are established overseas by Chinese companies. They have complete infrastructure, a clear industrial development strategy, and provide sound public services.

UNDP China has recently completed a report on fostering sustainable development through Chinese overseas economic and trade cooperation zones along the Belt and Road.

Xu said that China has shown an impressive ability to use international experience in the past 40 years during the country's process of reform and opening up. The country didn't simply follow others' experiences, but always analyze, look at its own conditions and requirements, and when appropriate, adapt others' experience to China's situation.

"In this respect, China can also be a model for other developing countries," he said.

He said that China's successful experiences in eradicating poverty could be useful and applicable to the countries which desire for accelerated growth and transformation.

Through the Belt and Road Initiative, China's poverty reduction could be shared with the world.

"For example, China has focused considerable resources on developing infrastructure to link poor areas to the more developed areas of the country, giving poorer population better access to services, markets and other opportunities to build better lives," he said.

Apart from being economic growth engines, those zones could also make a great contribution to environmental and social sustainability, Xu said.

"These zones could serve as key platforms for realizing sustainable development, if sustainability guidelines are applied in the operation of these zones, as well as in the business practices of companies operating there," he said.

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