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  • The 'One Belt, One Road' map displayed at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, China, Jan. 18, 2016.

    The 'One Belt, One Road' map displayed at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, China, Jan. 18, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 July 2019

“The Joint Sino-Arab efforts to boost cooperation on the Strip and the Route have achieved remarkable achievements, showing great potential and broad prospects."

Vice Ministry of Commerce Qian Keming said Friday in Beijing that China has signed cooperation agreements to build the "Belt and Road" (BR) Initiative with 18 Arab countries.

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“The Joint Sino-Arab efforts to boost cooperation on the Strip and the Route have achieved remarkable achievements, showing great potential and broad prospects,” Quian commented.

In 2018, the bilateral trade volume between China and the Arab countries reached US$244.3 billion, which meant an annual increase of 28 percent.

In that same year, Chinese companies signed contracts for US$35.6 billion to carry out projects in the Arab countries, US$1.2 billion of which were direct investments in energy, infrastructure and manufacturing.

Vice Minister Qian also reported that Chinese companies and financial institutions are interested in deepening their ties with Arab countries and their investors, especially in ports, railways, electricity and telecommunications.​​​​

Proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, the BR initiative seeks to unite China via land to Asian and European countries. It also seeks to link China with South East Asia, the Gulf, East and North Africa and Europe by sea routes.

In any of the two ways, this mega project involves building infrastructure for the production and transportation of goods and services through an interconnected system of ports, airports, train lines, roads, logistics centers, tech hubs and special economic zones.

“The Gulf is an important piece of China’s BR Initiative, which has two main components. The New Silk Road Economic Belt, which aims to connect China to Europe through land, and the Maritime Silk Road, with the goal of connecting China all the way to the Mediterranean via the Indian Ocean, the Gulf, Red Sea and Suez Canal,” Manuel Almeida, an international relations expert, explained.

“China is estimated to have spent over US$35 billion on the BR Initiative in the past five years, mainly on transport infrastructure such as railways and ports, and energy pipelines and grids,” he added

According to The Arab News, in 2016, China became the largest investor in the Arab world, with almost US$30 billion in foreign direct investment; in the same year, the U.S. investments only accounted US$6.9 billion.

Vice Minister Qian also announced that the 4th China-Arab States Expo will be held in the city of Yinchuan, in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, between September 5 and 8.

This exhibition will focus on areas such as cross-border e-commerce, infrastructure, trade and investment in order to promote deeper cooperation in these sectors.

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