BRI to lift NE Asian economy

By Huang Ge Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/22 20:08:40

Geopolitical factors not to hinder China’s efforts to advance free trade

The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will give a strong impetus to high-quality economic and trade growth among Northeast Asian countries and broader regional cooperation under the framework is expected, a senior official from the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said on Monday.

The Northeast Asian countries are geographically adjacent and culturally connected and their economies are strongly complementary. Given this context, there are broad prospects for regional cooperation in various fields under the BRI, Assistant Minister Li Chenggang told a briefing in Beijing.

"We have promoted the BRI to connect with Russia's Trans-Eurasian Belt Development construction and Mongolia's Development Road strategy, and to promote the deepening of economic and trade cooperation among China, Mongolia and Russia with key planned projects," Li said, adding that cooperation in cross-border transport has achieved remarkable results.

China has also been active in advancing cooperation with Japan and South Korea in third-party markets under the BRI, Li said, noting that the Chinese government is also speeding up efforts to advance talks on a China-Japan-South Korea Free Trade Zone as well as second-phase negotiations for a regional free trade agreement (FTA).

Cooperation in infrastructure and energy under the BRI is fundamental and common in Northeast Asian countries, Zhang Zhihui, a professor at the Northeast Asia Research Institute of Jilin University, told the Global Times on Monday.

"The region will embrace an increased number of industrial tie-ups," Zhang said.

But due to the worsening Japan-South Korea relations during recent days, the trilateral FTA talks face headwinds, Zhang said, noting that under the influence of the US, geopolitical factors would impose pressure on the construction of the BRI in the region.

Despite uncertainties brought about by unstable relations between Japan and South Korea, China has never given up on promoting the FTA, while it has also beefed up efforts to drive free trade in the region, according to experts.

As one of the fastest-growing regions across the globe, Northeast Asian countries account for 23 percent of the global population, and their GDP accounts for 19 percent of the world economy, according to media reports.

China enjoys close economic and trade ties with countries in the region and remains their largest trading partner. Trade between China and Northeast Asian countries hit $759 billion in 2018, accounting for 25 percent of the country's total foreign trade, MOFCOM data showed. 

During the same period, China's trade with Japan and South Korea surpassed $300 billion, China-Russia trade exceeded $100 billion and China-Mongolia trade approached $8 billion, according to the ministry.

Apart from traditional cooperation sectors, countries in the region are also actively exploring new ways of channeling regional cooperation as evidenced by expos and industrial parks.

With the aim to further promote connectivity in Northeast Asia and set up effective cooperation mechanisms, the 12th China-Northeast Asia Expo is scheduled to be held from August 23 to 27 in Changchun, capital of Northeast China's Jilin Province, Cao Yuanmeng, an official from the National Development and Reform Commission, told the same meeting.

A pavilion with the special theme of 5G technology will be set up during this year's expo, showing the digital transformation of infrastructure construction in the country, Cao said.

Posted in: ECONOMY

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