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Trade and investment relations get boost from OBOR


04-17-2017 14:29 BJT

Full coverage: Belt and Road Forum for Int'l Cooperation

(Source: CGTN)

ASEAN countries are important trade and investment partners of China. Trade volume between the two sides is expected to hit 1 trillion US dollars by 2020. 

Two million tons of fishes, shrimps and crabs changed hands in this market in Fuzhou City last year between traders from China and ASEAN countries. That involves 30 billion yuan worth of transactions and they are done here, the China-ASEAN Marine Product Exchange.

Started in 2015, the exchange allows for real time pricing and settlements, making spot trading more efficient. The transactions are all dealt in the Chinese yuan to reduce exchange rate risks, which also has a positive side effect for the currency.

“Both pricing and settlements are dealt with in yuan. Both buyers and sellers, no matter what country they come from, need to hold yuan to trade. So this will increase the use of the Chinese currency internationally,” said Xue Yongfu, Vice President, China-ASEAN Marine Product Exchange.

Trade relations between China and ASEAN countries go far beyond marine products. In the Southern end of China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is the country’s only bonded port on the western coastline.

It is buzzing with activities in the Qinzhou Free Trade Port, and behind me is the ASEAN market, an integral part of China’s Belt and Road initiatives.

Through here, China is exporting farming machineries and equipments to Southeast Asia, and importing things from raw materials to passenger cars. 1.4 million containers passed through the Qinzhou port in 2016, up 60 percent year on year.

“Under the Belt and Road initiative, we are speeding up the development of this port. We are improving shipping-to-railway connectivity and streamlining customs procedures. At the same time, we are building industrial zones around the port,” said He Zhen, Deputy Director, Beibu Port Office, Qinzhou City.

What Mr. He is referring to is the nearby China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park, jointly set up by both countries governments. The zone’s president, an ex-Malaysian trade official, hopes his country’s palm oil and rubber makers could in the future have a presence in the park, which promises such things as tax breaks and rent discounts.

"When China requires bigger orders, they can’t supply because the production in Malaysia is so small for the Chinese market," said Ong Chong Yi, President, China-Malaysia Industrial Park Development Co.

"So what we can do through this platform we hope that Malaysian companies can come into China to set up plants to work with Chinese companies to explore bigger markets in China.”

The park has a counterpart in Malaysia, the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park. It is what officials call a “Two Countries, Twin Parks” cooperation mode.

“Before this, in Malaysia no one knows about Qinzhou. No one would ever think about investing in Qinzhou. Also in China, no one knows about Kuantan. Through this bilateral cooperation, on this two country twin park, more and more Malaysian and Chinese they now know more about these two places,” Ong Chong Yi said.

Officials hope this cooperation mode would be a pioneering step on the way to achieving a China-ASEAN Free Trade Area in the future.

The Belt and Road initiative is a massive national strategy. While it is supported by the public sector and state-owned companies, the country’s private firms are also responding to this government strategy by fine-tuning their international development game plans.

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