SCIO briefing on 'The Belt and Road Initiative: Progress, Contributions and Prospects'

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Xiao Weiming, director general of the Department of General Affairs at the Office of the Leading Group for Promoting the Belt and Road Initiative;

Song Lihong, director general of the Comprehensive Department at the Ministry of Commerce

Hu Kaihong, spokesperson for the State Council Information Office of China

April 22, 2019

Economic Daily:

Mr. Song of the Ministry of Commerce just now introduced some achievements in the Belt and Road economic and trade cooperation. What measures does the ministry plan to take to promote the cooperation from now on? Thank you.

Song Lihong:

Thank for your question. Last August, President Xi Jinping stressed at a symposium marking the fifth anniversary of Belt and Road construction that high-quality joint construction should be pursued with even more meticulous efforts. We will act strictly in accordance with the requirement by further deepening mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation with relevant countries in the economic and trade fields, and improve the quality of our cooperation to achieve more for the benefit of people all over the world. We will take five specific steps this year:

First is to build a high-level platform for cooperation. As you all know, last year, we successfully hosted the first China International Import Expo. This was an important decision made by the Communist Party of China Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core to promote a new round of high-level opening up, and is a major initiative by China to further open its market to the rest of the world. The successful convening of the first expo exerted wide influence worldwide, winning high praise and establishing an important milestone for high-level opening up in the new era. This year, while consolidating the achievements of the first expo and promoting the completion of deals and contracted projects achieved then, we will make careful preparations for the second expo in accordance with the important instructions of President Xi Jinping to ensure we can host a high-level, productive and increasingly improving event. I believe it will provide a platform for all countries to share the dividends of China's development and an effective promoter for high-quality construction of the Belt and Road.

The second step is to make meticulous efforts for major economic and trade cooperation projects. We will focus on industrial investment and infrastructure connectivity, and promote the construction of a number of major projects with good comprehensive benefits and strong driving effects, so as to help developing countries consolidate their foundations for further economic development, better participate in the global division of labor, and benefit from the global value chain. We will continue putting people at the center of our efforts, delivering timely assistance to the needy, promoting more foreign aid projects concerning people's livelihood and immediate interests, and increase their sense of gain.

Third, we intend to carry out more activities to promote trade and investment. In my opinion, to construct a superior Belt and Road, the government should seek to play a role of higher quality. However, it is still the market that should play the decisive role in allocating resources. Thus, it is up to market players at large to strengthen their cooperation. Entrepreneurs need to meet, negotiate and discover business opportunities. Therefore, we will perform our duty in organizing various kinds of large-scale exhibitions, especially for the Belt and Road countries, and step up efforts in attracting investment and inviting exhibitors. We will also support regional efforts to build trade and investment promotion platforms with distinctive themes and features, creating more business opportunities from interactions among entrepreneurs.

Fourth, we intend to accelerate the development of "Silk Road E-commerce". The internet and the upcoming large-scale commercialization of 5G will create more favorable conditions for e-commerce development. At the beginning of the reform and opening up program, China's trade and investment cooperation with relevant countries proceeded through door-to-door marketing. Now, we do not need to follow that way any longer. With computers and mobile phones, we can select goods and services and have them delivered to us at the press of a button. Therefore, we will make full use of modern information technology to empower, add new impetus and boost the growth of China and relevant countries' foreign trade with e-commerce.

Fifth, we will promote the construction of free trade zones. We will work with willing countries to establish new free trade zones, and upgrade existing ones according to higher standards. In other words, we will reduce institutional and artificial barriers to trade and investment, and promote a grand market of the Belt and Road. Thank you.

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