China’s trade with countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) posted robust growth in 2019, revealing the resilience of the world’s biggest trader against economic headwinds.
Trade with BRI partner countries totaled 9.27 trillion yuan (about 1.34 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2019, up 10.8 percent year on year, outpacing the country’s aggregate trade growth by 7.4 percentage points, according to the General Administration of Customs (GAC).
In the 2014-2019 period, the total trade volume between China and BRI countries surpassed 44 trillion yuan, with an average annual growth of 6.1 percent. China has become the biggest trade partner of 25 BRI countries, GAC data showed.
BRI countries’ share of China’s total trade approached 30 percent last year, up by 2 percentage points from 2018.
Zou Zhiwu, vice minister of the GAC, noted that alongside fast growth with its major trading partners like the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China has also seen its imports and exports expand rapidly with the BRI countries and emerging economies in Africa and Latin America.
“The Chinese economy has significant resilience, potential and room to maneuver. It is the same in terms of its foreign trade,” said Zou, describing China’s trading partners as “globally scattered” and “flowering in various regions.”
Zou attributed the solid trade growth momentum with the BRI countries to enhanced customs cooperation and trade facilitation measures.
China has signed the most Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) agreements in the world to facilitate customs clearance for enterprises. Among all the 42 countries and regions holding AEO agreements with China, 18 are BRI countries and regions, he said.
The country has set up seven fast customs clearance channels for agricultural products at borders with BRI countries including Kazakhstan, Vietnam and Mongolia and promoted the opening of China-Europe freight trains for mail service.
Zou also noted that Chinese customs signed 198 documents on inspection and quarantine cooperation in 2019, including 89 with B&R countries and regions.