Business / Economy

Commonwealth sees huge potential in trade with China

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-12-03 10:23

VALLETTA - The 53 Commonwealth members' trade expansion with China has been particularly spectacular, and there remains huge untapped potential, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Deodat Maharaj said here in a recent interview with Xinhua.

The Commonwealth is made up of 53 independent countries with a combined population of 2.2 billion people. The association includes countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean and Americas.

Talking about the "Commonwealth Trade Review 2015," a report providing a comprehensive analysis of Commonwealth trade, the Deputy Secretary-General said, "We have seen a spectacular rise in the trade between the Commonwealth and China in the last decade."

According to the report, since 2000, total Commonwealth exports to China have increased more than fourteen-fold, from $19 billion to $268 billion, and imports from China have risen almost eight-fold, from $46 billion to $359 billion.

In 2013, on average, 12 percent of Commonwealth countries' imports originated from China and 10 percent of their exports were destined for China.

"In the same period, Commonwealth trade with the world rose by only 2.5 times. The rapid expansion of trade with China becomes obvious," Maharaj said.

"For many countries, trading with China has been one of the defining features of global trade," the report said, noting that the volume and growth rate of trade between Commonwealth countries both exceeded that between the Commonwealth and China.

By comparison, the total value of goods and services traded between Commonwealth member countries stood at $592 billion in 2013, an average annual growth of almost 10 percent each year since 1995. Meanwhile, the report said the volume of China-Commonwealth trade was estimated to have grown to $687 billion in 2015 and projected to exceed one trillion dollars by 2020.

In 2000, China accounted for 10 percent or more of imports for just one Commonwealth member; in 2013, the corresponding number of members had increased to 28, according to the report.

"Turning to exports of goods, while there has been a general increase in exports to the Chinese market, this has been much less spectacular," he said, adding that for as many as 35 Commonwealth members, less than 5 percent of their exports in 2013 were destined for China.

"Therefore, I think there is a huge potential for many of our member states to continue to build a very strong and vibrant trading relationship with China," he stressed.

For example, Maharaj said, it is important for many developing countries in the Caribbean to try to attract tourists from China, because their economies are driven by tourism.

"Therefore, they need to diversify their markets and China to my mind is an important policy option," he said.

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