(Yicai Global) May 11 -- China's trade with countries along the One Belt, One Road route has reached CNY20 trillion (USD2.9 trillion) since President Xi Jinping proposed the major cooperation initiative in 2013, Qian Keming, China's vice minister of commerce, said at a press conference yesterday.
In terms of investment, Chinese firms carried out non-financial investments totaling more than USD50 billion in countries along the scheme's route, with the value of construction contracts executed reaching USD304.9 billion, Qian said.
In addition to challenges and opportunities, the Belt and Road initiative boasts great development potential, he added.
"Chinese-made products, Chinese-built projects, and Chinese services are becoming increasingly popular among overseas countries," said Qian. "Foreign products, services, technologies and capital are also flowing into the country."
"Nations in the One Belt, One Road region complement one another in terms of resources and enjoy huge trade and investment potential," he continued. "I believe trade in the region will grow rapidly with its fast-growing economy, infrastructure connectivity, and the joint development of standards and plans."
The Belt and Road initiative is not and will not become a free-trade zone, Qian added, but such areas an important part of the strategy. The country has set up 56 economic and trade cooperation areas in 20 of the countries on the route, with investments topping USD18.5 billion.
One Belt, One Road is a major cooperation initiative encompassing policy communications, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, capital movement, and people-to-people exchanges, said Qian. FTZs focus on trade and investment, while One Belt, One Road calls for economic, cultural, and interpersonal exchanges.
The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is scheduled to be held in Beijing on May 14 and 15. President Xi will attend its opening ceremony and chair round-table discussions. The gathering aims to strengthen collaboration and promote development of the initiative to achieve mutually beneficial results.