Belt and Road imports grow faster than exports

May 7, 2018 - China’s imports from Belt and Road countries increased faster than exports in 2017 for the first time, according to China's State Information Center.

The value of China’s imports from Belt and Road countries stood at $666 billion in 2017, an increase of 20 percent year-on-year, or 39 percent of China’s total imports' value. China’s exports to those countries came were $774.26 billion, a rise of 8.5 percent year-on-year. 

China’s combined trade with Belt and Road countries reached $1.44 trillion, up 13.4 percent year-on-year, 5.9 percentage faster than China’s overall trade growth.

China’s trade with Central Asian countries grew at the fastest rate, followed by Eastern Europe. South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, India and Russia ranked among China’s top 10 trading partners along the routes, contributing nearly 70 percent of China’s trade with Belt and Road countries.

China mainly sells mechanical and electrical products to Belt and Road countries and imports mechanical and electrical products as well as fossil fuel from them, the Center said.

China’s investment in Belt and Road countries could reach $300 billion by 2030, more than double the current level, Standard Chartered predicted last month. The initiative has accelerated growth in the nation's foreign direct investment flows which were the second-largest (after the U.S.) among single countries in 2015 and 2016. China’s foreign direct investment in Belt and Road countries reached $129.4 billion in 2016, rising 12 percent year-on-year and accounting for nine percent of China’s total. 

A cross-regional network of railway, port and pipeline projects is taking shape. For example, the China-Europe Railway Express has operated 4,000 trains, covering 27 cities in 21 provinces in China and 29 cities in 11 countries in Europe as of June last year. It is estimated that China has invested at least $20 billion in ports and terminals over the past two years.

Source: Maritime Executive