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Silk Road initiative boosts inland opening up

Updated: 2015-07-08
( Xinhua )

LANZHOU, July 8 (Xinhua) -- A record number of overseas officials and businessmen attended an annual trade fair in northwest China's Gansu Province, signifying increased interest in the country's inland.

The 21st China Lanzhou Investment and Trade Fair opened in Lanzhou, the provincial capital, on Tuesday, with the participation of more than 400 foreign guests from countries along the Belt and Road, a China-proposed trade and infrastructure network.

"We hope international cargo trains which depart from Lanzhou can run to Belarus," said Anatoly Kalinin, deputy prime minister of Belarus, who led a delegation of entrepreneurs and officials.

As the fair's main guest of honor, Belarus has a special exhibition area for its agricultural machinery and other high-tech equipment.

By participating in the Road and Belt initiative, China is accelerating its opening up to the west and inland Gansu is becoming a vanguard in this trend, said Yang Zhenwu, head of the Gansu Commerce Department.

The Belt and Road initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which were proposed in 2013 with the goal of reviving ancient trade routes between Asia and Europe. The network passes through more than 60 countries and regions, with a total population of 4.4 billion.

Official data from Gansu shows the province has set up 114 companies in countries along the Road and Belt routes, with an accumulated investment of $3.2 billion .

Gansu has had 23 foreign invested firms in petrochemical, leather processing and agricultural sectors. They are from 11 countries in central and western Asia, central and eastern Europe.

At the fair, 1,292 trade and investment deals were signed, with a record high value of 697 billion yuan ($114 billion), an increase of 46 billion yuan.

Deals involve companies from Germany, Italy, Belarus, the United States, India and the Republic of Korea, among other countries.

"Gansu is actively participating in the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt to expand the economic and trade cooperation with countries along the routes," said Li Rongcan, vice governor of Gansu.

The Lanzhou fair will boost Gansu's opening up, he said.

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