SCIO press conference on commerce work, operations in H1 2023

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Economic Daily:

What were the new achievements and highlights of Belt and Road economic and trade cooperation during the first half of 2023? What efforts will be taken to promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation? Thank you.

Guo Tingting:

Thank you for your questions. I'd like to address them. Since the start of this year, MOFCOM has fully implemented the important instructions of General Secretary Xi Jinping on jointly promoting Belt and Road Initiative and the decisions and arrangements of the 20th National Congress of the CPC. We've worked with all related parties to steadily advance Belt and Road economic and trade cooperation. New achievements have been made on various fronts. 

First, the foundation of trade and investment has been continuously strengthened. We secured a steady growth of trade volume and an increasingly optimized trade structure. Over the past six months, our goods trade with Belt and Road countries reached 6.89 trillion yuan, marking a 9.8% year-on-year increase. This is 7.7 percentage points higher than the nation's overall growth in goods trade during the same period. Our exports of NEVs, machine tools, and household appliances to Belt and Road countries rose by 163.3%, 49.7% and 26.2%, respectively. Meanwhile, our imports of quality specialty products, including agricultural products from Belt and Road countries, grew by 17.9%, and fertilizers by 71.7%. We also noted the rapid growth in bilateral investment. In the first half of the year, our non-financial direct investment in Belt and Road countries reached 80.1 billion yuan, an increase of 23.3%, and we received 55.95 billion yuan of actualized investment from Belt and Road countries, a 23.7% increase.

Second, we have strengthened connectivity. On the one hand, we have advanced the "hard connectivity" of infrastructure. In the past six months, the turnover of Chinese enterprises' contracted projects in Belt and Road countries totaled 277.72 billion yuan, an increase of 11.5%. Key projects like the Cambodia Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone and the China-Laos Railway commenced operation smoothly. We made new progress in constructing the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, a joint endeavor between China and Singapore. Based on industrial park cooperation agreements, China and some ASEAN countries took steps to jointly develop demonstration zones for innovative economic and trade development. On the other hand, we facilitated the "soft connectivity" of economic and trade rules and standards. RCEP took effect in 15 member countries, and the version 3.0 China-ASEAN FTA negotiations were held. We also signed a free trade agreement with Ecuador. Most importantly, we deepened the "connectivity of the heart." Several "small but beautiful" programs aimed at enhancing education, healthcare and poverty alleviation were carried out in Belt and Road countries, greatly improving local people's livelihoods. We also advanced nine programs of China-Africa cooperation.

Third, the building of mechanisms and platforms has been improved. We established working groups to facilitate trade with two countries and promote investment with five countries. In terms of cooperation in emerging sectors, we signed eight memorandums of cooperation with six countries on green development, the digital economy, the blue economy, e-commerce, and trade in services. To fully utilize cooperation platforms, we successfully hosted the third CEEC Expo & International Consumer Goods Fair and the third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo.

Following the guidance of the CPC Central Committee and the arrangements of the State Council, MOFCOM will continue to enhance economic and trade cooperation with Belt and Road countries and expand cooperation spaces to make new contributions to high-quality Belt and Road cooperation with more win-win results. Thank you.

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