Nation to further expand investment, trade with Central Asian neighbors

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Trade and economic ties between China and Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will be further enriched through trade in services, people-to-people exchanges and opportunities under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, officials and experts said.

"In addition to trade in energy, mining and agricultural products, China and the two Central Asian neighbors have in recent years had more opportunities to enlarge trade and investment in such fields as modern services and agriculture, environmental protection and urbanization," said Feng Yaoxiang, director of the investment promotion division of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

China-Kyrgyzstan trade grew in 2018 by 3 percent year-on-year to $5.61 billion and China-Tajikistan trade by 9.78 percent year-on-year to $1.5 billion, the Ministry of Commerce said.

China ships mainly manufacturing equipment, steel, chemicals, foodstuffs, electronics, textiles, garments and appliances to the two countries.

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan's exports to China include ores, petroleum and related products, concentrates, precious metals, honey, fruit, nuts, medicinal plants, tobacco, bitumen, unprocessed animal fur, gems and wool.

Yu Jianlong, secretary-general of the China Chamber of International Commerce, said the ongoing urbanization and industrialization in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan will give rise to many opportunities for goods and new business models such as e-commerce, economic zones, multimodal transport and upgraded digital and financial services.

As the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has entered a new stage in its development, its member nations now have more strength to jointly tackle global challenges and further develop markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa via the Belt and Road Initiative, Yu said.

"China and other SCO members are also exploring ways to integrate the BRI with regional cooperation programs and national development plans," he said, adding that they also support policies and activities that help landlocked countries transform into land-linked ones, including by strengthening connectivity and cooperation in transportation and infrastructure.

The Chinese government called on SCO economies in October to enhance business activities in multilateral economic cooperation and trade, production capacity and connectivity for future development and reduce the risks caused by protectionism.

Xue Rongjiu, deputy director of the China Society for WTO Studies, said that to sustain interconnected growth, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan need to achieve infrastructure connectivity, foster economic growth and improve living standards through infrastructure investment.

Chen Yao, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Industrial Economics, said they should also make the best use of financing platforms such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to improve regional connectivity and industrial capacity cooperation.

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