Two-way investment between China and economies related to the Belt and Road Initiative exceeded $130 billion between 2013 and 2018, injecting new growth momentum into BRI-related countries and contributing to recovery of the global economy, senior Chinese officials said on April 22.
China’s direct investment in BRI-related countries grew by 5.2 percent annually on average to surpass $90 billion between 2013 and 2018, Song Lihong, an official in the Ministry of Commerce’s Comprehensive Department, said at a news conference.
Song said that in the same period, China had received a total of $40 billion in inbound investment from BRI countries as two-way investment deepened.
Within the five years, the value of the projects completed by Chinese companies in BRI economies amounted to $400 billion, Song said.
The value of trade in goods between China and BRI-related economies exceeded $6 trillion in the same period, an average annual growth of 4 percent, higher than the overall growth of China’s foreign trade, he added.
Regarding the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, to be held in Beijing on April 25 through April 27, Song said the ministry will help deepen economic and trade cooperation with other countries. “China will build more free trade zones with countries that are willing to do so,” Song added.
“As for the existing free trade zones, we will reduce administrative barriers in trade and investment and push the formation of a big Belt and Road marketplace.”
While some critics have argued that the initiative will lead countries into debt traps, Song said debt can be solved through joint efforts to promote the development of BRI economies. “Even though some countries may have high debt levels, as their pace of industrialization, urbanization and modernization accelerates, their debts will gradually decrease.”
Joe Kaeser, president and CEO of Siemens AG, said, “If an initiative like the BRI unifies more than two-thirds of the global population, it will create massive infrastructure and economic movement that will build its own rules.”
He said that from a long-term perspective, population determines economic growth. Even though it will take some time, the large number of people in BRI-related economies will ultimately prove the potential for economic development in those countries.
Ma Yu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said the BRI provides a new impetus for the recovery of the world economy. The improvement in infrastructure, and digital-related manufacturing brought by the BRI will restore the development capacity of the world economy and bring new opportunities for the partnership between Chinese and local companies.
Also on April 22, the Office of the Leading Group for Promoting the Belt and Road Initiative released an official report on the development, achievements and prospects of the BRI.