|The picture presents key spots of China's Belt and Road initiative, which contains two business routes, the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. (Xinhua / Web Photo)|
BEIJING – After a little more than three years, China's Belt and Road Initiative, envisioned as an infrastructure and trade network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes, is delivering promising early results on trade and investment.
It's a win-win scenario given that China and countries along the routes have signed more than 40 cooperative agreements so far, covering more than 10 key industries including steel, electronics, automobiles and equipment-making, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said.
"The Belt and Road Initiative strengthened our confidence in going global when we felt at a loss and pointed out a new way for us – integrating industrial chains," said Sun Weijun, deputy head of Tianjin Julong Group, a leader in China's palm oil industry.
The Belt and Road Initiative strengthened our confidence in going global when we felt at a loss and pointed out a new way for us – integrating industrial chainsSun Weijun, Tianjin Julong Group
Julong Group's continuous efforts paid off when China-Indonesia JuLong Agricultural Industry Cooperation Zone was promoted to a state level overseas economic and trade cooperation zone in August 2016.
So far, a total of 52 overseas economic and trade cooperation zones have been established between China and countries along the routes, while more than 1,400 major projects are in the pipeline, according to the MOC.
Liu Chiyan, general manager of Fuzhou Hongdong Pelagic Fishery Co., Ltd., spoke about the company's achievements in boosting local industrial development and employment during its overseas expansion.
Located in southeast China's Fujian Province, the east end of the ancient Maritime Silk Road, the Fuzhou Hongdong company has taken advantage of the Belt and Road Initiative in establishing its nine overseas fishery bases.
"There are 2,000 local employees in our company's fishery base in Mauritania alone. We provide them food and dorms, shuttle buses, social security and medical insurance," said Liu. "That's why countries like Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania are offering preferential policies to solicit our investment."
The company's Mauritania fishery base has a complete industrial chain including fishing, food processing and cold-chain logistics.
"Take the stone industry as an example: after more than three years of the Belt and Road Initiative, trade protectionism has greatly degraded in the stone processing industry," said Liu Liang, president of Yingliang Group, a leader in mining exploration, sales and processing.
China said it will press ahead with the Belt and Road Initiative as one of three major strategies, along with Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei coordinated development and the Yangtze River Economic Belt Initiative, according to a statement issued on Friday after the Central Economic Work Conference, during which Chinese leaders and senior officials gathered to map out priorities for 2017.
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China has decided to promote the Belt and Road Initiative, improve its investment environment and open up more fields to global integration.
"The Belt and Road Initiative is not just the trade and investment type of integration that people thought in the beginning, but it really goes into areas like intellectual property rights or environment or climate change, or collaboration in areas that people never thought such an initiative could cover," said Margit Molnar, head of the China Desk of the Economics Department of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The Belt and Road Initiative, also known as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was put forward by China in 2013.
Strengthening the initiative was listed as one of the major tasks of the Central Economic Work Conference in 2013.
The China-proposed initiative has been increasingly recognized as a solution to global economic difficulties and uncertainties worsened by a sluggish recovery, downturns in trade and investment, a lack of growth momentum and setbacks in globalization.