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Belt and Road Initiative 10 years and counting Release date: 2023-10-12

Editor's note: The Belt and Road Initiative has played an important role in deepening policy communication among countries, promoting global connectivity, reshaping international trade patterns and driving world economic growth since its inception 10 years ago.

Achievements in promoting unimpeded, convenient and efficient trade

1. Trade and investment expanding steadily

From 2013 to 2022, the cumulative value of imports and exports between China and BRI partner countries reached $19.1 trillion, with an average annual growth rate of 6.4 percent.

The cumulative two-way investment between China and partner countries reached $380 billion, including $240 billion from China.

2. Trade and investment liberalization and facilitation improving

China has signed 21 free trade agreements with 28 countries and regions, signed bilateral investment agreements with 135 countries and regions, and inked conventions for the avoidance of double taxation (including arrangements and agreements) with 112 countries and regions.

3. Trade and investment platforms playing a growing role

China International Import Expo (CIIE) is the world's first import-themed national-level expo and has been held for the past five years. It has resulted in a cumulative intended turnover of nearly $350 billion, and about 2,000 launches of new products.

The influence of key exhibitions continues to expand; these include China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair), China International Fair for Trade in Services, China International Fair for Investment and Trade, China International Consumer Products Expo, Global Digital Trade Expo, China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo, China-Arab States Expo, China-Russia Expo, China-CEEC Expo & International Consumer Goods Fair, China-ASEAN Expo, and China-Eurasia Expo.

4. Industrial cooperation is deepening

By the end of June 2023, China had signed agreements on industrial capacity cooperation with more than 40 countries. China Mining Conference & Exhibition and China-ASEAN Mining Cooperation Forum & Exhibition serve as important platforms for participating countries to conduct mining capacity cooperation.

Diverse dynamics of financial integration in the past 10 years

1. Financial cooperation mechanisms maturing

China Development Bank (CDB) has promoted the establishment of multilateral financial cooperation mechanisms.

As of the end of June 2023, a total of 13 Chinese-funded banks had established 145 first-tier offices and branches in 50 BRI partner countries; some 17.7 million businesses in 131 partner countries had opened UnionPay services, and 74 partner countries had opened UnionPay mobile payment services.

China has signed bilateral currency swap agreements with 20 partner countries and established renminbi (RMB) clearing arrangements in 17 partner countries.

2. Channels and platforms for investment and financing constantly expanding

China has funded the establishment of the Silk Road Fund (SRF) and established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with other participating countries.

China has actively participated in various existing financing arrangements. It has signed memorandums of cooperation with international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

China has initiated the establishment of international economic cooperation funds, which have effectively expanded investment and financing channels for partner countries.

The CDB and the Export-Import Bank of China (China Eximbank) have each set up special loans for the BRI to pool resources to increase financing support for BRI cooperation.

3. Innovative investment and financing methods steadily being explored

Various models such as funds and bonds have been developed, and BRI financial cooperation is improving. China's securities industry has set up a number of BRI-themed funds and indexes. Green finance is steadily developing.

4. Debt sustainability continues to improve

China and 28 countries approved the Guiding Principles on Financing the Development of the Belt and Road, encouraging the governments, financial institutions and enterprises of participating countries to attach importance to debt sustainability and improve their debt management capability.

To avoid causing debt risk and financial burden to the countries where BRI projects are located, China has prioritized economic and social benefits and provided loans for project construction based on local needs and conditions.

Growing connectivity of infrastructure

1. Construction of economic corridors and international routes makes substantial progress

Participating countries have pressed forward with the creation of international arterial routes, building an infrastructure network that connects subregions in Asia as well as the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa.

2. Maritime connectivity steadily improving

The Silk Road Maritime network has continued to expand. By the end of June 2023, it had reached 117 ports in 43 countries, and more than 300 well-known Chinese and international shipping companies, port enterprises and think tanks, among other bodies, have joined the Silk Road Maritime association.

3. Air Silk Road makes notable progress

China has signed bilateral air transport agreements with 104 BRI partner countries and opened direct flights with 57 partner countries to facilitate cross-border transport.

4. International inter-modality transport channels continue to develop

The China-Europe Railway Express has now reached more than 200 cities in 25 European countries, comprising 86 routes passing through the main regions of the Eurasian hinterland at a speed of 120 km per hour.

Benefits to be brought by BRI

The World Bank estimates that, by 2030, the Belt and Road Initiative will generate annual global benefits of $1.6 trillion, accounting for 1.3 percent of global GDP.

Higher-quality "green connectivity" is expected to be promoted, and green and low-carbon development is expected to accelerate.

Background Information

The Belt and Road Initiative, or the "New Silk Road Economic Belt" and the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road", was proposed in 2013.

By June 2023, China had signed more than 200 BRI cooperation agreements with more than 150 countries and 30 international organizations across five continents.

It enriches the ancient spirit with the zeitgeist and culture of the new era, and provides a platform for building a global community of shared future.

Source: The Belt and Road Initiative: A Key Pillar of the Global Community of Shared Future