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News Analysis: Belt and Road Initiative props Chinese economy

Source:   Time:

BEIJING, July 13 (Xinhua) -- China's exports and investment along the Belt and Road, a China-proposed trade and infrastructure network, increased steadily in the first half of 2015 as the country strengthened economic ties with the region.

China's foreign trade posted a lackluster performance in the first half (H1) of the year, with total foreign trade dropping 6.9 percent year on year to 11.53 trillion yuan (1.89 trillion U.S. dollars) in the first six months of 2015, according to data released by the Central Administration of Customs (CAC) on Monday.

During the Jan.-June period, exports rose slightly by 0.9 percent from a year ago to 6.57 trillion yuan as trade with emerging markets along the Belt and Road Initiative appeared robust.

Bilateral trade with countries along the Belt and Road initiative reached close to three trillion yuan, about one fourth of the total trade volume.

Exports to ASEAN and Africa rose 9.5 percent and 12.9 percent respectively year on year,and exports to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Egypt all rose by more than 17 percent year on year.

The China-initiated Belt and Road Initiative, more than one hundred days after its official release, helped reinvigorate the slowing domestic economy by further opening up the less developed western regions.

A cargo ship with one hundred thousand German-made water purifying bottles took 14 days to travel from Germany to the western Chinese Chongqing Municipality, crossing Poland, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan and Xinjiang along the Eurasia International Railway last month, a key transportation project of the Belt and Road Initiative.

It was the first time domestic cross-border e-commerce vendors transported goods back to China via an international railway.

"It saves us both time and money, " said Liu Rong, an e-commerce vendor.

He saved almost one month in shipping time, with only one fourth of the price of air freight, he said.

Thanks to the better connectivity via the Belt and Road Initiative, Chongqing's GDP growth in the first quarter topped other provincial regions by reaching 10.7 percent and fixed assets investment growth in the first five months reached 17.5 percent.

Guizhou, another western province, outperformed other regions in fixed assets investment growth in the first five months, reaching 23 percent due to an increase of infrastructure development projects.

In addition to rapid growth of infrastructure and trade, the Belt and Road Initiative also pushed western regions to upgrade their industries and products to cater to the specific demands of overseas markets.

"The Belt and Road Initiative will help Chinese enterprises move up the global industrial value chain by producing and exporting more high-end products, capital and technologies," said Li Tong, CEO of BOC International, a securities trader.

China will further cooperate with counterparts along the initiative to promote regional infrastructure and trade connectivity to boost regional economy, according to Huang Songping, CAC spokesperson.

The Belt and Road initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and was 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.

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