Country largest trade partner of 25 BRI economies

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This photo taken on Oct. 30, 2023 shows the exterior view of the Changsha International Conference Center, venue for the second conference of the Global Economic Development and Security Forum of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), in Changsha, central China's Hunan Province. [Photo/Xinhua]

China has become the largest trade partner of 25 economies involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, a report said.

The import and export value between China and other BRI markets grew from 6.46 trillion yuan ($883 billion) in 2013 to 13.76 trillion yuan in 2022, according to the report released during the second conference of the Global Economic Development and Security Forum of the Boao Forum for Asia being held in Changsha, Hunan province, from Sunday to Tuesday.

The total trade value among China and other BRI economies reached 6.89 trillion yuan in the first half of this year, up 9.8 percent from a year earlier, the report said.

Meanwhile, China's direct investment in other BRI economies totaled $182.2 billion from 2013 to 2022, while their direct investment to China surpassed $80 billion in the past 10 years, it said.

Moreover, as connectivity has been a priority for the initiative, a large number of strategic infrastructure cooperation projects — such as roads, railways, ports, aviation and power projects — have been built in BRI economies, it said.

For example, the China-Europe Railway Express exceeded 10,000 in number for the first time in 2020, while the number of such trains had surpassed 73,000 by the first half of this year, connecting more than 100 Chinese cities with 216 cities in 25 European countries.

The BRI has facilitated China's efforts in building an open economy, especially accelerating the further opening-up of inland provincial regions in western and northern China, the report said.

Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region is striving to develop itself as the core area of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the country's bridge to Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Zhou Xiaochuan, vice-chairman of Boao Forum for Asia and former governor of the People's Bank of China, said the so-called "debt trap" created by China is highly misleading.

China provides a relatively high share of funding for BRI projects through the Export-Import Bank of China and China Development Bank, along with some commercial banks. Most of the funding is through conventional loans, which have long tenures, and in case of insolvency, will be subject to restructuring, he said.

However, one cannot underestimate the negative impact of the "debt trap" narrative on BRI and its associated investment and financing, he added.

Hassan Daud Butt, associate professor at the Bahria University Islamabad in Pakistan, said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has not only facilitated Pakistan's regional integration, but has also catalyzed its economic growth and stimulated the energy sector.

Looking ahead, the industrial collaboration between the two countries is set to deepen. To fully unlock the potential of the CPEC, it is essential for participating economies to ensure transparency, adhere to sustainable development principles, adopt pragmatic planning, financial prudence, effective governance and anti-corruption measures, he added.

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