China inks 197 Belt and Road deals with 137 nations

CHINA's National Development and Reform Commission says China has signed 197 Belt and Road cooperation documents with 137 countries and 30 international organisations as at the end of October

24 November 2019 - 19:00
CHINA's National Development and Reform Commission says China has signed 197 Belt and Road cooperation documents with 137 countries and 30 international organisations as at the end of October.

In the nine months to September, China's trade with Belt and Road countries totalled about US$950 billion, and its non-financial direct investment in these countries reached $10 billion. China has established bilateral currency swap arrangements with 20 countries and established CNY clearing arrangements with seven countries.

The Commission noted that the construction of the China-Laos railway, China-Thailand railway, Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway and Hungary-Serbia railway are making solid headways reports The Maritime Executive, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

In addition, projects including the Gwadar Port, Hambantota Port, Piraeus Port and Khalifa Port have gone smoothly.

The building of the China-Belarus industrial park, the China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation Demonstration Zone and the China-Egypt Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone is underway, according to the Commission.

Gwadar Port is a deep-sea port situated on the Arabian Sea in Pakistan and features prominently in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor plan.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said recently that the Belt and Road initiative has emerged as the single most effective instrument of globalism and international development cooperation in the world.

He said that no other global initiative can boast of involving more than four billion people living in Asia, Europe and Africa. He cited a study by the World Bank saying that transport projects alone could reduce travel time along economic corridors by 12 per cent, increase trade by up to 9.7 per cent and income by up to 3.4 per cent, thus lifting millions of people from extreme poverty.

However concerns were raised as Pakistan handed over management of the port to China last week. Some analysts have raised concerns that the port could be used as a base for the Chinese Navy. Also, the Economic Times of India reports that Cosco recently cancelled container services between Gwadar and Karachi due to the slow development of the Gwadar Free Trade Zone.

Despite such concerns, Chinese expansion continues, and this week, Wuhan, the capital of central China's Hubei Province, announced the launch of a direct container shipping service to Japan starting on November 28.

Following the recent visit to Greece Chinese President Xi Jinping and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis agreed to reopen talks on a fourth Chinese-operated container terminal at the Port of Piraeus. Greece's Port Planning and Development Committee recently granted approval for almost all of a port-wide investment plan submitted by the Chinese-controlled Piraeus Port Authority (PPA).

The committee did not approve a fourth container terminal, which would have increased Piraeus' total TEU capacity from the current seven million TEU to 10 million TEU. In a statement announcing its decision, the committee asserted that 'the conditions at this stage are not ripe for the implementation' of another container facility.

China Cosco Shipping acquired a 51 percent stake in PPA in 2016. Under Chinese management, the port's container volumes and profitability have both grown, and it is now the third-busiest container port in the Mediterranean.

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