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Gao Hucheng: Deepen Economic, Trade Cooperation, Co-create New Brilliancy


People’s Daily published on July 2 a signed article by Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng, titled Deepen Economic, Trade Cooperation, Co-create New Brilliancy. The following is the full text:

Deepen Economic, Trade Cooperation, Co-create New Brilliancy

In 2013, during his visit to Central Asia and ASEAN, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the strategic conception of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Marine Silk Road successively (hereinafter referred to as “one belt and one road”), which endowed new era connotation with the ancient silk road, injected fresh vitality into Pan-Asia and Eurasia regional cooperation and attracted wide attention and positive response from the international community. Building the “one belt and one road” is an important strategic decision of the Party Central Committee with Xi as the General Secretary to actively cope with the profound changes of global situation and manage domestic and international situations as a whole. We should precisely grasp the background, connotation and strategic meanings of the “one belt and one road”, reach consensus with all parties and together build the conception into great reality. During the construction process, the basic and leading role of economic and trade cooperation should be made to full play, and the trade and investment exchanges with countries alongside the “one belt and one road” should be expanded, so as to promote regional economic integration and common prosperity.

Building “one belt and one road” is of great significance to promote China’s new round of opening up and common development with countries along the lines.

At present, economic globalization is enjoying deep development, with regional economic integration accelerating. Global growth and trade and investment pattern is about to go through profound adjustment. Eurasian countries are in a critical stage of economic transformation and upgrading and need to further activate regional development vitality and cooperation potential. The “one belt and one road” conception accords with the common need of countries along the lines and opens a new widow of opportunities to those countries with complementary advantages and open development.

Building “one belt and one road” contributes to China’s construction of the new pattern of opening up comprehensively. Over the past 30 years, China’s opening up has gained remarkable achievements. However, affected by geographical location, resource endowment and development foundation, China’s opening up remains a pattern of East China developing fast while West China slow, and coastal areas becoming strong while inland parts weak. The “one belt and one road” strategy will contribute to the forming of “one body and two wings” of the new round of opening up, bolstering the opening up of the inland areas when promoting the opening level of the east. Countries along“one belt and one road” are mostly emerging and developing countries, with about 4.4 billion in population and almost US$ 21 trillion of economic aggregation, accounting for 63% and 29% of the global total respectively. Most of these countries are in a rising stage of economic development, with broad prospect of mutual beneficial cooperation. Exploring the cooperation potential between China and the countries along the lines will surely boost the status of emerging economies and developing countries in China’s opening up, bolster opening up of central and western China and border areas, promote the upgrading and transformation of economic development in the eastern coast and form a new opening pattern of managing marine and inland as a whole, east and west helping each other, and facing the whole world.

Building “one belt and one road” contributes to the advantages complementary, mutual benefit and win-win of the countries along the lines. With different factor endowments and development levels, those countries have obvious comparative advantages and are highly complementary. With world top 2 market scale, top 1 foreign exchange reserve, increasing industries with technical advantages, rapidly developing transportation equipment manufacturing and rich experience in infrastructure construction, China’s foreign investment and cooperation has stepped into a stage of rapid development. In the future five years, China will import products valued over US$ 10 trillion, and invest directly overseas over US$ 500 billion, and tourists outboard will be over 500 million. Building “one belt and one road” is beneficial to China and countries along the lines to further give play of comparative advantages, create new comparative advantages and competition advantages, promote factors to flow freely and orderly, resources allocate efficiently and market integrate deeply, transforming economic complementarity to developmental impetus, so as to produce a superimposed effect of “one plus one is over two”, increase common benefits and form a favorable situation of complementarity and mutual benefit.
Building “one belt and one road” contributes to the forging of regional interests community and fate community. Running through Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Western Asia, and connecting Asia-Pacific and European economic circles, the “one belt and one road” is the most potential economic cooperation belt with the widest span in the world. Countries along the lines are facing the common tasks of transforming development modes and enhancing development impetus, and have close economic and trade connections, as well as common wish to expand economic and trade cooperation. Building “one belt and one road” will promote the improvement of infrastructure in the region, the enhancing of the level of trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, integration of value chain, and fluency of humane communication, so as to make Pan-Asia and Eurasia regional cooperation to a higher level.

Building “one belt and one road” will also bolster communication and exchanges among countries along the lines, promoting understanding and mutual trust and tightening the friendship bond, so as to create favorable conditions to countries to cope with all kinds of traditional and non-traditional security threatens, and promote peaceful development and regional harmony and stability of countries along the lines.

Economic and trade cooperation is the foundation and forerunner of the construction of “one belt and one road”.

The ancient Silk Road is a road for trade and cooperation first of all . Against extreme inconvenient traffic conditions, businessmen from various countries have gone through hardships and crossed hundreds of mountains and rivers to form a corridor for trade, advancing communications and exchanges among different cultures. The charm of the ancient Silk Road has never faded and it still boasts strong cohesive force and appeal in modern times. At present, countries along the road enjoy a more solid basis for trade and economic cooperation. They should play a leading role in trade and economic cooperation in building “one belt and one road” , so as to enhance a cooperative layout of extensive range, deep levels, high standards and overall development.

China’s trade and economic cooperation with countries along the road boasts a solid foundation. Trade and economic exchanges between China and the countries are steadily on the increase, with constantly deepened economic integration. At present, China is the largest trade partner, largest export market and the main source of investment of many of the countries. Over the past 10 years, trade between China and the countries has sustained an annual average growth of 19% and China’s direct investment in the countries has enjoyed an annual average growth of 46%, both higher than the annual average growth of China’s foreign trade and direct investment overseas over the same period. In 2013, trade value between China and the countries accounted for 1/4 of China’s total foreign trade, the direct investment China made took up 16% of its total direct investment overseas and the turnover of contracted projects in the countries by China accounted for half of its contracted projects overseas. In addition, China boasts a sound basis of regional and subregional cooperation with the countries and maintains steady development of transport and infrastructure connectivity.

The countries along the road also have strong intention for trade and economic cooperation with China. At present, regional economic cooperation is in the ascendant and those countries all hope to expand trade and economic cooperation with China to go along with China’s rapid economic development, so their intention for cooperation is increasingly strong. China has adhered to the right value orientation of justice and benefit, practice diplomatic ideas of being “friendly, sincere, beneficial and comprehensive” with border countries and strive to benefit developing countries especially its neighbors. It has caused strong response in the countries along the road since the strategic idea of “one belt and one road” was put forth. Some of the countries have begun to make their own development strategies to match with “one belt and one road” efficiently and some projects have begun to gain fruits in succession. On the sidelines of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia held recently, many participating countries expressed their willingness to positively support and play a part in building “one belt and one road”, and some have reached agreement with China on some major projects concerning oil and gas and logistics, and those early harvest projects are being implemented timely.

Trade and economic cooperation will bring strong impetus to realizing “five connectivities”. The main content of “one belt and one road” is to make policy exchanges, road connectivity, trade cooperation, currency circulation, and communication with people. The “five connectivities” are closely concerned and promote one another with strong connectivity and dependency. Barriers will be eliminated to expand trade and investment and improve their level so as to fully unleash the countries’ potential of trade and investment cooperation, create conditions and lay foundations for connectivity and financial cooperation, and contribute to policy matchmaking, cultural exchanges, closer communications between government and non-government and the final realization of the “five connectivities”.

Trade and economic cooperation along “one belt and one road” should be practically implemented, in accordance with spirits of Silk Road.

“One belt and one road” is an open and comprehensive initiate for economic cooperation irrespective of country and region. It’s not an entity and not for closed mechanism. All countries and economies with intention could join us and become a supporter, builder and beneficiary of “one belt and one road”. We will strive for the same goal with all parties, adhere to Silk Road spirits of unity and mutual trust, equality and mutual benefits, tolerance, and win-win cooperation, and push forward a group of major projects with demands and consensus, great influence and driving force in accordance with practical needs of all parties so as to fan out from a point to an area, from a line to a district, create trade flows, industry belts, communication networks, and cultural circles among the countries and advance the construction of “one belt and one road”along with multi-field and high-level trade and economic cooperation.

Probe new growth point for regional trade. We will expand market opening to each other, deepen all-round cooperation in customs, quality inspection, e-commerce and cross-border transport and improve trade facilitation of border countries. Trade promotion activities for the countries will be carried out positively to optimize exhibition layout and build more efficient trade promotion platforms. We’ll stabilize our exports of advantageous products like labor-intensive products to the countries, increase exports of mechanical and electronic products as well as hi-tech products and drive exports of large sized complete sets of equipment through investment and contracted projects overseas. We’ll also increase imports of non-resources products along with the increase of energy resources and farm products from the countries to achieve balanced trade. International marketing and cross-border e-commerce will be strengthened to boost enterprises to build logistic bases and distribution centers in traffic hubs and improve regional marketing network. Trade in goods and service will maintain collaborative development, traditional trade in service like transport and architecture will be increased and international quality tourist lines and products featured by Silk Road will be cultivated to enhance characteristic trade in service and develop modern trade in service.

Expand two-way investment cooperation. Economic and trade cooperation between countries along the lines should be promoted to shift from simple commodity trade to more advanced mutual investment, so as to foster a sound situation in which trade and investment enjoy conducive interaction and both grow. Our traditional advantageous industries such as light industry, textile and building materials should be led to invest overseas and set up local plants so as to be close to the markets and upgrade industries and raise the level of industrialization of countries along the lines. Cooperation in energy and resource development with countries along the lines should be strengthened and increasing investment by heavy chemical industry to those countries with rich mineral resources and popular demand for infrastructure construction should be encouraged, so as to realize the integrative development of exploitation, smelting and processing, and promote the integration of upstream and downstream industry chain. Cooperation with countries along the lines that have rich agricultural resources in agricultural planting and stock-raising should be deepened. Enterprises should be encouraged to expand foreign contracted projects in countries along the lines and actively participate in infrastructure construction in those countries. A batch of economic and trade cooperation parks should be built at major traffic junction and ports of the “one belt and one road”so as to attract various countries’ enterprises to investment in the park, form an industrial demonstration plot and a characteristic industry park, and increase the employment of the countries along the lines and improve people’s livelihood. Meanwhile, raising the standard of national economic and technological development zones should be promoted; the construction of Sino-foreign cooperative industrial parks should be pushed forward; the building of border economic cooperation zone and cross-border economic cooperation zone should be steadily advanced; and the investment environment should be improved so as to attract enterprises from countries along the lines to invest and develop in China.

Push forward the interconnection and interworking of regional infrastructure. Key channel, junction and major projects should be dealt with attention and the construction of the network of connectivity with close link, convenience, safety and efficiency should be accelerated. The interconnection and interworking of infrastructure on the land, in the sea and in the air should be planned as a whole. The construction of backbone channels such as Eurasian Continental Bridge, New Eurasian Continental Bridge, BCIM Economic Corridor, and Sino-Pakistan Economic Corridor should be actively carried forward.

Efforts should be made to get through missing road segments and unblock bottleneck road segments, intensify the construction of ports and their operations management, increase sea routes and shifts, unblock combined transport channels between land and water, and expand and build platforms and mechanisms of comprehensive cooperation of civil aviation. Efforts should be made to strengthen the transportation planning between various countries and parties and the docking of technical standard system, push forward and build unified entire transportation coordination mechanism, lower the cost of international cargo transportation and improve transportation efficiency.

Improve the level of regional economic integration. The agreement of regional comprehensive economic partnership and the free trade negotiation in the second stage between China and Pakistan should be promoted. The achievement of the fourth round tariff concession of Asia-Pacific Countries Trade Agreement should be implemented as soon as possible. Work is to be done to restart free trade negotiation between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council; the China-ASEAN free trade zone should be ungraded; free-trade progress with countries like Sri Lanka should be carried forward; and new free trade relationship with relevant countries and regions along the line should be actively developed so as to gradually form a worldwide high-standard free trade network which can have a foothold in neighboring countries and regions and play a positive role in “one belt and one road”. Meanwhile, attention should be payed to playing the role of cooperative organizations of existing regions and subregions and mechanism of bilateral negotiations; communication on policies should be strengthened; problems in the process of project implementation should be consulted and resolved in time; and the relevant content of the construction of “one belt and one road” and major cooperative projects should be actively brought into existing bilateral and multilateral cooperative mechanism.

The blueprint has been drawn and the dream should be realized by doing solid work. The construction of “one belt and one road” is a great cause for improving the level of opening up, promoting regional coordination and development and advancing peoples’ well-being in the countries along the line. We should adhere to the principle of common discussion, common construction and sharing, go ahead bravely, pool the wisdom and efforts of everyone, make a strong issue of economic and trade cooperation, fully improve the economic and trade cooperation level of “one belt and one road”, create new glories of the Silk Road and make greater contribution to realizing Chinese dream of rejuvenation, pushing forward common development of the countries along the line and promoting world peace, stability and prosperity.


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