China-Greece BRI cooperation serves as model for EU countries

China-Greece collaboration under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping six years ago is a model for mutually beneficial cooperation between China and the European Union (EU) countries, officials, scholars and businessmen have said.

The attendees at a conference on bilateral relations and the BRI organized at Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation in Piraeus Port at the weekend praised China-Greece cooperation so far in infrastructure, shipping, finance, trade, tourism, energy, education, culture and other fields.

“The BRI is a major historic opportunity for common development. China-Greece teaming in the BRI context is a model for EU countries conducting mutually beneficial cooperation,” said Xie Fuzhan, president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Greece is among the first EU countries to sign an intergovernmental cooperation document with China to jointly advance BRI cooperation.

In April this year, Greece joined the cooperation mechanism of China and Central and Eastern European Countries as a full member, creating new opportunities for the development of the mechanism as well as for China-EU relations and China-EU connectivity.

The successful regional cooperation has been giving impetus to the prospects of the BRI in Europe, participants at the conference said.

Through Chinese investment, Greece’s Piraeus Port, a flagship project in bilateral BRI collaboration, has been transformed into one of the leading container ports in the Mediterranean. It becomes a key transport corridor linking the port to central Europe.

The turnover of the port amounted to 70.6 million euros (around 77.8 million U.S. dollars) in the first half of 2019, up 11.2 percent year-on-year.

“Piraeus Port is one of the first major projects … BRI is a work in progress. More must be done, but the results are measurable and are quite positive,” Thanos Dokos, deputy national security advisor, told the conference, underlining Greece’s willingness to further strengthen cooperation with China.

Greece can be a complementary bridge between the EU and China, the Greek official said, stressing the need to build confidence and reassure that the final outcome will be a win-win situation for all.

There is so much that can be achieved in the future, starting from shipping and tourism to culture, Dokos talked about the prospects of China-Greece cooperation under the BRI.

“Today with the deepening of globalization, the BRI, rooted in the spirit of the ancient Silk Road, is giving impetus for cooperation between the two countries of different scales, different systems and different cultures,” said Stella Kostopoulou, associate professor at School of Economics at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

The potential to see more Chinese tourists to Greece in coming years and more understanding and cooperation via people-to-people exchanges, is most promising, said Kostopoulou, who is also president of the European Interdisciplinary Silk Road Tourism Center.

“For China, Greece, a member of the EU, has a strategic position as a gateway to Europe and the broader region and a transport hub on the Maritime Silk Road. Therefore, Greece can now acclaim also the role of the Chinese tourist hub, the tourist gateway to the rest of Europe,” Kostopoulou added.

In an article published on Greek newspaper Kathimerini (The Daily), former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, also referred to bilateral cooperation under the BRI and the new horizons of opening up.

The major challenges of the era of globalization demand international cooperation, he noted.

“Collaboration in the BRI context has great prospects,” the former prime minister said, saying that “China COSCO Shipping’s investment in Piraeus Port has been recorded as one of the most successful examples of this initiative.”

Source: Xinhua

China signs nearly 200 deals for BRI Projects & Eyes Further Expansion

China signs nearly 200 deals for Silk Road Projects & eyes further expansion China’s trillion dollar Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), also known as “One Belt, One Road,” which has already attracted nearly 170 participants, Chinese President Xi Jinping has announced, vowing to further develop the project.

“To date, China has signed 197 documents on Belt & Road Cooperation with 137 countries and 30 international organisations,” he said in the opening speech at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Tuesday.

The development of the initiative, which is aimed at boosting trade connections across the world and linking China with other countries, is a central part of plans to open up the Chinese market, according to President Xi.

Other proposed measures include boosting investment and imports, lowering tariffs, developing free-trade zones, improving business environment as well as deepening bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

“Standing at a new historical starting point, China will open its door only wider to the world,” President Xi stated, calling for other countries to “stand firm against protectionism and unilateralism.”

The ambitious BRI, launched in September 2013 by President Xi, could cost Beijing up to $1.3 trillion by 2027, according to Morgan Stanley’s estimates.

China’s cumulative investment in the BRI Countries has already surpassed $100 billion, with the value of the construction projects exceeding $720 billion, Vice Minister of Commerce Qian Keming said in September.

Source: The Belt and Road News 

Canton Fair ends with total Export of $29.2 Billion

The 126th China Import and Export Fair concluded in Guangzhou City of South China’s, also known as the Canton Fair in Guangdong Province, reporting a total export turnover of 29.29 billion U.S. dollars.

The fair saw the export transaction with Countries & Regions along the Belt & Road (B&R) reached 11.06 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 37.75 percent of the total export trade, up 14.81 percent from the last fair.

The fair attracted 186,015 buyers from 214 Countries & Regions, of which 74,722 were new customers for the fair, accounting for 40.17 percent of the total participants, and buyers from Belt & Road Countries and regions made up 45.93 percent of the total number of buyers, an increase of 1.37 percentage points over the last fair.

More than 100 world’s top 250 retail enterprises, with five ones of the top 10, participated in the fair

The export turnover of private enterprises reached 22.16 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 75.67 percent of the total turnover, up 0.28 percent from the last fair. And the turnover of machinery and electronic products accounted for 54.43 percent of the total turnover, ranking first.

Brand exhibition area which accounted for 20 percent of the total booth area gained a good turnover, accounting for 31.57 percent of the total turnover.

In recent years, the Canton Fair has become an important platform to promote trade between China and the countries and regions taking part in the Belt & Road Initiative, according to Xu Bing, spokesperson for the fair.

The China Import and Export Fair, held every spring and autumn in Guangzhou, capital of southern China’s Guangdong Province, is widely seen as a barometer of China’s Foreign Trade.

Source: Belt and Road News

Belt & Road Initiative to bring Qatar & Mideast closer to the World

The mega ambitious Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), which is being implemented by China and a Host of Partner Countries around the world, will bring “more of the Middle East to the world and more of the world to the Middle East”.

The Belt & Road Initiative, also known as the Silk Road Economic Belt or the 21st Maritime Silk Road, will create multiple opportunities for business, trade and investment almost all over the world, including Qatar, said a Senior Official of Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) at an event yesterday.

Lim Meng Hui, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Qatar Free Zones Authority’s (QFZA) in his opening address at the Silk Road Exhibition & One Belt One Road Conference, organised by the Doha based Dar Al Sharq Group, noted that the BRI is a global development strategy adopted by the Chinese Government involving infrastructure development and investments in 152 Countries & International Organisations across the globe.

Hui said that this Initiative is “a bid to enhance regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future”. It advocates international economic cooperation leveraging the comparative strengths of all countries, serving the development needs of the participating countries, and building a more balanced and inclusive global industrial chain. It aims to create new trade corridors.

“These new trade corridors create multiple opportunities for businesses, industries and consumers, to expand their global footprint and be able to access more of the global trade market. For Qatar and its investors, it brings more of the Middle East to the world and more of the world to the Middle East,” Hui noted.

Speaking about the QFZA and the opportunities, he said that it has it is holding QR3.64 bn ($1bn) fund to promote investment and economic growth in the in the Country.  The QFZA, according to recent reports, has already approved investment applications from major international and local companies valued at more than QR1bn by the end of August this year.

“QFZA is a regulator, zones developer, holding at the same time a $1bn fund to promote investment and economic growth. We have nearly 40 square kilometres of well-planned Zones,” Hui said highlighting the importance of Qatar’s Investments in One Belt, One Road Initiative.

He added: “Our direct role is to attract investments and long-term partners to Qatar, especially in three major sectors: logistics, chemicals and emerging technologies.” He further said that these sectors are chosen to capitalise on Qatar’s vast natural gas reserves; world-class infrastructure, high internet and IT penetration to make Qatar an excellent hub for tech operations, across automotive, marine, aviation, pharmaceuticals, and chemical industries.

Qatar and China’s economic relationship which is already on a very strong footing is slated to grow. QFZA has positioned itself to be one of Qatar’s catalysts in this growth under BRI. It opens up the doors for the potential investors in both Qatar and China.

For Chinese companies, Qatar offers a relatively secure and stable investment partner.  It helps with improved access to Qatar’s high value consumer base and provides them with a strategic presence in the GCC and broader MENA Region – a business hub from where they can easily reach 60 percent of the world population.

“I am happy to share with you that in 2019, abided by the Belt & Road Initiative, QFZA has signed four MoUs separately with China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), Xiamen Free Trade Zone, Shenzhen Cross Border E-Commerce Association and China Harbour Group.

Currently, China Harbour is implementing a clean energy bus assembly plant in QFZ, and also the project of ship to shore cranes, opening up doors to immense opportunities,” Hui added. In his concluding remarks, he thanked the organisers of Silk Road Exhibition & Conference;

“I urge the participants, especially the potential investors to seriously evaluate, consider and avail themselves of the golden opportunity that Qatar and China offer under the Belt & Road Initiative,” he said.

Source: Belt and Road News

Dated on: 5/11/2019

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China gives a strong snub to India over nefarious designs against Pakistan

Reiterating its support to Pakistan at the FATF platform, China has categorically announced that they did not want the forum to be politicized as some countries were pursuing their political agenda in a bid to blacklist Pakistan.

“China does not want the FATF to be politicized by any single country. There are some countries, which want to include Pakistan in the blacklist. We consider they have political designs. That is something China is against. China stands for justice,” Deputy Director General for Policy Planning of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affair Department of Asian Affair Yao Wen said.

 Speaking to a group of visiting Pakistani journalists here, Yao Wen said China stood with Pakistan and blocked any attempt to include Pakistan in the blacklist.

“We made it clear to the United States and India that we cannot do it. It goes beyond the purpose of FATF,” he added.

He said the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was not meant to put any country in the blacklist, rather to support it to take action against terror financing. Pakistan was effectively pursuing its National Action Plan, and China encouraged it to act against terrorists and strengthen its system.

“China will help (Pakistan) technically and politically to improve its system,” he added. China would also help Pakistan build the capacity to handle issues related to terror financing.

He said instead of pressuring it, the FATF member countries should assist Pakistan to improve its system and China would also continue its support in that regard.

Besides China , a traditional ally of Pakistan, Turkey and Malaysia also supported the country in the FATF meeting held in October.

According to the 36-member FATF’s Charter, the support of at least three countries is required to keep any state from being blacklisted. The FATF in its October meeting expressed satisfaction over the initiatives taken by Pakistan and its progress in various areas.

As regards Pak-China ties, the Chinese official said it was high time in their bilateral relationship since Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Beijing thrice in a year and had meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping four times.

He said the recent visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China was a productive one, wherein he also had interaction with many heads of state.

He said China and Pakistan were all-weather strategic partners, with close cooperation in multiple fields.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said, was moving in right direction. “We are working closely on CPEC, and the issues of Kashmir and FATF.”

He welcomed establishing of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPECA) by Pakistan that would help expedite work on CPEC projects.

About the recent visit of Chinese President to India, he said the relations between Chain and Pakistan were mature enough and they had nothing to do with India.

“China and Pakistan have cooperation in all the sectors. Our mutual trust stands very high while we have deficit of trust with India as we have so many problems and differences (with them),” he added

He said the Chinese president conveyed Pakistan’s concerns to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over current development in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

India was told that Pakistan did not want war with it and desired to resolve the Kashmir issue through peaceful means, he added.

To a question, the official said China had serious concerns over Indian action of August 5, which had even challenged the Chinese sovereignty and interests.

China , he said, had expressed its strong position on the action.

Yao Wen said China had a clear position that the Indian Occupied Jammu Kashmir was a disputed territory. The dispute between Pakistan and India had to be resolved in accordance with the United Nations Charter and its Security Council resolutions. China did not back the unilateral action taken by India, he added. China was willing to play a constructive role for the peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue, he said.

The official said during the last five years, lots of achievements had been gained as about 20 road infrastructure projects and powers generation plants had been completed under CPEC.

“Now we are working with the Government of Pakistan on new projects,” he added. He said in the next phase of CPEC, establishment of special industrial zones would be focused, which would create job opportunities for local people, besides increasing exports, uplifting of social economic and eliminating poverty, he added.

He said China and Pakistan had also strong cooperation in the defence sector.

Source: Daily Times 

Dated on: 29/10/2019

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Work on Rashakai SEZ to start next month

ISLAMABAD: 

Work on the Rashakai Special Economic Zone –one of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects – will be started next month.

A sum of $130 million will be invested in the economic zone.

The concession agreement for the project has been finalised and will be provided to the company concerned. K-P Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has ordered that the agreement be presented before the provincial cabinet meeting for discussion and approval.

According to sources, the Rashakai Special Economic Zone is the geographical centre of the entire province and will connect the region economically.

It will create employment opportunities and generate economic activity.

According to Board of Investment Chairman Haroon Sharif, the Rashakai Special Economic Zone had strategic significance because it is closer to Afghanistan and Central Asian countries.

The K-P chief minister said the Rashakai Special Economic Zone was set to become the centre of manufacturing and production in the province and the region in the future.

“The Rashakai Special Economic Zone will emerge as the most suitable economic centre of the province and region. We have already announced special concessions for investment and industrialisation formally approved by the provincial cabinet,” he added.

Mahmood said that under the industrial policy, implementation would be carried out between the mutual understanding of China and Pakistan. However, the overall legal frame and requirements should be taken care of. The economic development will spell out the overall prosperity adding that his government would bring the newly merged districts to the national mainstream of development and resources would be provided which would be utilised transparently.

The Rashakai Special Economic Zone, less than 50 km from the planned CPEC railway as well as Peshawar, will be spread over an area of 4.04 square km.

Last month, K-P adviser Abdul Karim said the provincial government had helped bring in some Rs10.5 billion as investment in the industrial sector of the province creating thousands of jobs.

Noting that the provincial government is keen to facilitate local and foreign investors, he said that they had introduced an investment-friendly policy. This, he said, had helped attract investors to the cement, fertiliser and garment sectors.

Source: Express Tribune

Dated on: 28/10/2019

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President sees Belt and Road as path to poverty relief

Pakistan’s president believes efforts to root out corruption have set the stage for an economic revival in his country, and he is optimistic that both China and Donald Trump’s U.S. will play important roles in that brighter future.

President Arif-ur-Rehman Alvi, who spoke to the Nikkei Asian Review while visiting Tokyo for Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony, also expressed hope that Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative will not only bring infrastructure but also help address social issues like poverty.

Pakistan has received considerable aid from countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and China, along with a $6 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund. Alvi insisted better days lie ahead.

“Four things are very important,” he said. “First, money laundering is going out of Pakistan. The second thing is that Pakistan has started fighting against corruption, which discourages foreign investors.”

The third key point, he continued, “is the documentation of the economy. Because all the corruption and money laundering were happening, when the government was very poor, this government has insisted on documentation of the economy and bringing more people into the taxpaying net.”

“The fourth thing is that we have slashed the major trade deficit.”

Pakistan’s economy has indeed been showing some bright spots. The trade deficit for the July-September quarter of 2019 shrank by 34.8% on the year. Tax collection for the same period was 13.5% higher.

“Our exports have been increasing slightly but imports, especially luxury goods, have declined. So the trade gap has been reduced,” the president said.

Overall, Pakistan remains in a difficult economic situation. Gross domestic product growth for fiscal 2018-2019 came to 3.3%, the lowest in eight years.

But Alvi was adamant that things are looking up. “I think [the entire] situation was improved, having the package from the IMF, and opening doors to cooperation with the Asian Development Bank, World Bank and other funds of Asia.” On Monday, the IMF and World Bank provided assurances of continued support in meetings with Pakistani officials.

“Today, capital is available at a very low interest rate in the world, around 1% or so,” the president said. “It is very comfortable to repay those loans for developing infrastructure.”

To this point, the focus of the infrastructure drive has been the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC — a $50 billion endeavor at the heart of the Belt and Road. This was hailed as a game changer for Pakistan but has also been criticized as an example of “debt-trap diplomacy” by Beijing — a strategy critics say forces countries that rely on Chinese money to give up other concessions in return.

Alvi, though, is hopeful that the Belt and Road can be about more than just physical infrastructure. “In the first phase, we were looking at energy. Today we have gone to more social-related issues — poverty alleviation, improvement in education and health care.”

He also stressed that warming relations with the U.S. should give Pakistan’s economy another boost.

“There is better understanding in Mr. Trump’s mind of what is happening in the geopolitical region, and what is a solution in Afghanistan,” he said of the American president, arguing that this will lead to more U.S.-Pakistan trade.

“Trump said that we intend to increase bilateral trade to 20 times. That is a very important statement coming from the U.S. president.”

On the diplomatic front, too, Alvi sees Islamabad gaining a higher profile. “Recently, Mr. Trump mentioned, Saudi Arabia and Tehran show some inclination for Pakistan to play a role of improving contact and mediation. So Pakistan has become a very big player.”

This would build on Pakistan’s involvement with the Afghanistan peace process. “Pakistan is already playing a role, encouraging negotiation between the Taliban and the government,” Alvi said. “Pakistan has no interest but peace. Pakistan has a role in suggesting mediation to bring them to the table, has a role in future reconstruction.”

Even so, Pakistan has struggled to make much diplomatic headway on a high-priority issue of its own: India’s decision in August to revoke Article 370 of its constitution, which guaranteed special status to predominantly Muslim Jammu and Kashmir. Despite loud appeals from Pakistan, only a few countries voiced concerns.

“Besides ethics, moral and legal issues, countries look at market,” Alvi said. “India is a big market, so these arguments took a back seat.”

He continued: “I think what Pakistan needs to do is to let the world understand that promises, the United Nations Security Council resolutions [which underline the Kashmir people’s right to self-determination], were made by anybody else but the Indian government itself.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan aims to keep building up its economy with the help of international partners. Japan is also keen to assist Pakistan with developing infrastructure and human resources while enhancing security.

The president hopes to expand trade with Japan, ultimately through a free trade agreement but even before a deal is sealed. He pointed to the way Bangladesh benefits from special preferential tariff treatment by Japan and said he would talk with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about a similar arrangement.

“We should be able to import Japanese machinery with no duty, before the FTA happens,” he said.

As for examples of Japanese infrastructure investment, he pointed to the revival of the Karachi circular railway project.

“The security situation made the movement of Japanese investors to Pakistan difficult,” Alvi said. “But now the security has much improved.”

Source: NIKKEI Asian Review

Dated on: 23/10/2019

China’s Belt & Road Initiative gaining more overseas popularity: survey

BEIJING, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) — The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is gaining more overseas popularity, according to the 2018 China National Image Global Survey released Friday.

About 20 percent of the overseas respondents have heard of the BRI and the ratio reached 40 percent or higher in India, Japan and Italy, the survey showed.

The top five countries with the highest awareness of the initiative were India (50 percent), Japan (43 percent), Italy (40 percent), the Republic of Korea (30 percent) and Russia (30 percent).

The BRI, proposed by China in 2013, refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aimed at building trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond.

The initiative’s positive impacts were widely affirmed, the report said, noting that the respondents in developing countries thought highly of the impacts on themselves as individuals, on their countries, and on the regional and global economies.

Jointly conducted by the Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies and Kantar from May to July 2018, the survey covered 11,000 people, aged between 18 and 65, from 22 countries. The above-mentioned data were drawn from 2,112 of the overseas respondents who know about the BRI.

Source: Xinhua| 2019-10-18 15:33:50|Editor: Wang Yamei

Exporters bank on Belt & Road gains amid dark Trade Cloud

Leading Chinese Exporters remained optimistic on growth prospects in the overseas markets on Tuesday, despite slowing global growth and rising trade protectionism.

“We have made several breakthroughs in technology and maintained an advantage in production costs, after years of innovation in the development of various products,” said Zhu Zhaoheng, Sales Director of Guangdong Hongyu Ceramics Co Ltd.

The company, based in Foshan, a manufacturing base in the heart of the Pearl River Delta region, along with some 25,000 domestic exporters, is optimistic of higher sales during the biannual China Import and Export Fair. Internationally known as the Canton Fair, the event is long regarded as the barometer of China’s trade performance.

According to Zhu, the company has maintained stable business growth in the Middle East, Southeast Asia & Australian markets in the past few years since it entered the international market in 2000.

“We will continue to look for opportunities to boost sales in the emerging markets,” he said.

Zhu said the company is especially optimistic on growth prospects in markets across the Belt & Road Initiative economies. “We are confident about transactions during this year’s Canton Fair, thanks to years of innovation and quality of our products,” he said.

According to Xu Bing, spokesman of the Canton Fair, the biannual trade event had become one of the important platforms for trade between China and BRI markets. Buyers from the BRI markets accounted for up to 45 percent of the total international buyers during the fair in the past six years, according to Xu.

“We are building stronger cooperation with business associations related to the Belt & Road Initiative,” he said.

According to Xu, 53 industrial and commercial organisations from 35 countries and regions involved with the Belt & Road Initiative had established partnerships with the Canton Fair Organisers.

China’s Foreign Trade maintained stable performance from January to September, increasing 2.8 percent year-on-year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Of the total trade volume of 22.91 trillion yuan (US$3.23 trillion) in the past three quarters, the country’s exports expanded by 5.2 percent, while imports dropped 0.1 percent year-on-year.

Trade between the world’s second largest economy and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, one of China’s top two trading partners, hit 3.14 trillion yuan in the first nine months, up 11.5 percent year-on-year, according to the customs sources.

“Looking ahead, China’s trade will maintain stable growth, with more exporters focusing on quality and innovation, despite slower global economic growth and rising trade protectionism,” said Xu.

According to Xu, buyers from 210 countries and regions have confirmed their participation in the Canton Fair, which opened on Tuesday in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province.

Source: Belt and Road News Network 

Dated on: 17/10/2019

Canton Fair sees Strong Belt & Road Presence

The 126th China Import & Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, is scheduled to open Tuesday, with around 60 percent of companies attending its import fair hailing from Belt & Road Countries and Regions.

The autumn session of the biannual fair holds import exhibitions in its first and third phases. With 998 booths, the import exhibitions have attracted a total of 642 enterprises from 38 countries and regions. These include 367 companies from 21 Belt & Road Countries and Regions.

According to Xu Bing, Spokesperson for the fair, the fair will improve the quality of import exhibitions to create a more open international platform.

The China Import and Export Fair, held every spring and autumn in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, is widely seen as a barometer of China’s foreign trade.

The fair features three phases. The first, falling on October 15 to 19, will mainly showcase electronic products, home appliances, mechanical equipment and building materials. The second, from October 23 to 27, will show consumer goods, decorations and gifts.

The third, from October 31 to Nov. 4, will display textiles and clothing, food and medical products.

Xu said the Canton Fair has become an important platform to promote trade between China and those countries and regions taking part in the Belt & Road Initiative.

Dated on: 15/10/2019

Source: Belt and Road News