Belt and Road nations account for 26% of China's trade

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Trade with countries along the Belt and Road, a China-proposed initiative to enhance international connections, amounted to 236 billion U.S. dollars in the first quarter of 2015.

This translates to 26 percent of China's total exports and imports during the period,

In the same quarter, exports to Belt and Road nations increased 10 percent year on year to 144.5 billion U.S. dollars, outpacing a general 4.6 percent growth in exports during the period.

The volume accounted for 28 percent of China's total exports, Shen Danyang, spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce, said at a press conference held in Beijing.

Meanwhile, imports from these countries hit 91.5 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 23.4 percent of China's total imports, Shen said.

The government has not identified all nations included under the Belt and Road, but so far as many as 60 have voiced support and interest in the initiative.

During the first quarter, non-financial investment into these countries stood at 2.56 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 10 percent of its total overseas investment. Singapore, India and Laos were the top three destinations for investment.

Outbound investment compared to 1.68 billion U.S. dollars in foreign direct investment from these countries, with investment from Mongolia and Russia more than doubling, Shen said.

Currently, China is engaged in the joint construction of 70 cooperative zones with these nations,, through projects such as the construction of industrial parks, with companies having invested more than 8 billion U.S. dollars, Shen said.

According to him, these zones are expected to realize an annual output of at least 20 billion U.S. dollars, and provide up to 200,000 jobs.

The official said that cooperation with Thailand on the Thai-Chinese Rayong Industrial Zone had created more than 3,000 jobs for locals.

In addition, the presence of 50 Chinese textile and garment companies in Cambodia has also created almost 10,000 jobs.

The Belt and Road refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the international trade and infrastructure projects proposed by China.

The Belt is an overland network bringing together China, central Asia, Russia and Europe; linking China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea, and connecting China with Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean.

The Road is a maritime network designed to link China's coast to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean in one route, and China's coast to the South Pacific through the South China Sea in another.

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