News Center

You are here: Home News Center Exhibition Intl Focus

China, Central Asian countries build up strong economic and trade ties Release date: 2023-05-18    Source:CGTN

China's economic and trade cooperation with the five Central Asian countries has continued to achieve tangible results since the establishment of diplomatic ties more than 30 years ago, the country's Ministry of Commerce said in a press briefing last Thursday.

The briefing came ahead of the China-Central Asia Summit, set to open on May 18, where leaders of the six countries are scheduled to meet.

Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesperson Shu Jueting said China will take the summit as an opportunity and work with the five countries to bring economic and trade cooperation to a new level. 

China's trade and investment with Central Asian countries continue to grow

In 2022, China's trade with the five countries – namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – totaled $70.2 billion, reaching a record high with a 40-percent increase from a year ago. 

In the first quarter of 2023, the figure was 22 percent higher than a year ago, displaying a strong growth momentum. 

In 1992, when China first established diplomatic ties with the five Central Asian countries, trade volume between the countries stood at only $460 million.

The trade structure between the countries has also continued to improve over the years. 

Last year, China's imports of agricultural, energy and mineral products from the five countries surged over 50 percent from a year ago, while its exports of mechanical and electronic products to them jumped by 42 percent. 

Trade via cross-border e-commerce rose by as much as 95% in 2022, while close to 300 Central Asian enterprises registered and sold their products on Chinese e-commerce platforms.

China is now the largest trading partner of Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and the second largest trading partner of Kazakhstan, as well as the third largest trading partner of Tajikistan, according to the Commerce Ministry.

In terms of investment cooperation, China's direct investment stock in the five countries came in at over $15 billion as of the end of March 2023. The cumulative turnover of completed projects reached $63.9 billion.  

Economic cooperation extends across various fields:

1. Agriculture

China-Central Asian economic cooperation has advanced across a wide range of areas including infrastructure, oil and gas exploration, manufacturing, medical and health care, education, technology and the digital economy.

Agriculture has long been a key focus of cooperation between China and its Central Asian partners. 

According to the Chinese Commerce Ministry, trade in agricultural products climbed from $175 million in 1992 to over $1 billion in 2021. Specialty agricultural products including cotton, honey, camel milk, dried fruit and cherries from these Central Asian countries have entered into and found demand within the Chinese market.

The countries have also stepped up cooperation in transforming the processing of agricultural products, improving the value chain of agricultural products and promoting green agriculture.

2. Energy resources

In view of the rich energy resources of the Central Asian countries and China's huge demand for energy as a major oil and gas consumer, energy has naturally become an important area where China-Central Asian cooperation has borne abundant fruit.

Running through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, the China-Central Asia gas pipeline is China's first transnational gas pipeline. By the end of 2022, the pipeline had delivered a total of 423.2 billion cubic meters of natural gas to China since it became operational in 2009.

Major energy projects also include the China-Kazakhstan crude oil pipeline and the Galkynysh Gas Field. These projects have promoted the social and economic development of countries along the route, in addition to diversifying China's energy imports and improving its domestic energy consumption structure.

3. Transportation and connectivity

Central Asia is a key link along the Belt and Road and the China-Europe Railway Express. 

A slew of cooperation projects have been launched within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative to boost regional connectivity, such as the Dushanbe-Chanak Highway and the Qamchiq Tunnel.

Notably, the first passenger flight route between Xi'an, the capital of China's northwestern Shaanxi Province, and Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan, was officially launched last Saturday. Another similar route between Xi'an and the Tajik capital of Dushanbe will be launched on May 18. The launch of the two air routes will mark the complete linkage of passenger flight routes from Xi'an, the starting point of the ancient Silk Road, to the five countries in Central Asia.

The growing cooperation in the civil aviation industry is expected to facilitate the economic and trade exchanges between China and the Central Asian countries, and play an important role in achieving the vision of an "Air Silk Road."

While traditional areas of cooperation have yielded results, several experts have reportedly noted that economic and trade cooperation between China and the five Central Asian countries are now extending to emerging sectors such as e-commerce and the digital economy in recent years, where great potential awaits to be tapped.