Business / Macro

Belt and Road lights up global growth

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-10-21 10:14

BEIJING - Although the world has been mired in sluggish economic growth, countries along the Belt and Road Initiative are bucking the trend.

According to a report Wednesday by China's National Bureau of Statistics, despite a slight decline of trade volume overall, China's imports and exports with the Belt and Road countries have impressively increased over the last three quarters of 2016.

China's exports to Pakistan, Russia, Poland, Bangladesh and India have increased by 14.9 percent, 14 percent, 11.7 percent, 9.6 percent and 7.8 percent respectively, compared to last year's numbers. China also continues to import more bulk commodities including iron ore, crude oil, coals and coppers from Belt and Road countries.

Charles Onuaiju, director of Nigeria's Center for China Studies in the capital Abuja, said that the Belt and Road is a model of global development that stresses inclusiveness and participation.

Countries including Cambodia and Bangladesh have also connected their domestic development plans to the Belt and Road in a bid to bolster growth and explore further opportunities.

Former Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Jiri Paroubek said the Belt and Road can accelerate the economic growth of many Eurasian countries and will also become a driving force for the overall development of the global economy.

The Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. The initiative brings together countries in Asia, Europe and Africa via overland and maritime networks.

Trade between China and the Belt and Road countries exceeded $600 billion, 26 percent of China's total foreign trade volume, during the first eight months of 2016, said Fang Aiqin, deputy head of China's Ministry of Commerce.

Investment and financing is another cornerstone of the Belt and Road plans.

From January to August, China invested nearly $10 billion in countries along the Belt and Road through financial institutions including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund, according to the ministry.

Preliminary estimates showed that loans provided by the AIIB were to the tune of $1.2 billion in 2016 and are expected to rise to $2.5 billion in 2017 and $3.5 billion in 2018.

The New Development Bank (NDB) is another key institution for multilateral financial cooperation. The bank, jointly founded by China, Russia, Brazil, India and South Africa, officially opened in July, 2015 in Shanghai with an initial authorized capital of $100 billion.

The bank has approved five investment projects in the area of clean energy, one in each member country, for a total of over $900 million, a fact sheet provided by the bank has shown.

Also according to preliminary estimates, totals loan provided by the NDB are $1.5 billion to $2 billion, $2 billion to $2.5 billion and $4 billion to $5 billion for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively.

Under these measures, Pakistan has witnessed a boom in infrastructure construction. The China-Pakistan economic corridor is regarded as the first chapter of the Belt and Road symphony. With the economic corridor at the center and the Gwadar Port, transport infrastructure, energy and industrial cooperation being another four key areas, a "1+4" cooperation structure is gradually taking shape.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that the China-Pakistan economic corridor is a boon to the whole region and it will bring tangible benefits to the 3 billion people of China, Central Asia, South Asia and the Middle East.

Many Belt and Road countries have also witnessed an increase in employment and decrease in poverty.

Bilateral economic and trade cooperation between China and Bangladesh is a good example. An increasing number of Chinese investors have opened factories in the populous South Asian country, raising employment along with the training of personnel.

The Belt and Road Initiative has only begun, and experts believe it will be further integrated into the global economy in the future.

The initiative acknowledges people's hopes for a better life and champions the diversity of values in the world, said Onuaiju, director at the China center in Abuja.

Without any doubt, it will also promote world peace, stability and prosperity.

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