China actively boosting agricultural, food imports from Central Asia amid closer ties
Published: May 17, 2023 10:52 PM
China + Central Asia (C+C5)  Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China is actively boosting imports of quality agricultural and food products including grain, fruits and milk products from Central Asian countries, with over 100 types of products and 4,000 enterprises approved for such exports, injecting vitality into bilateral trade, Chinese customs said on Wednesday.

The comments came as the China-Central Asia Summit was scheduled to be held in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province on Thursday and Friday, which is expected to inject further momentum for economic and trade cooperation.

In order to promote trade of agricultural and food products between China and Central Asian countries, China's General Administration of Customs (GAC) said it continues to expand a green channel (fast track) system, with eight channels already opened, covering all road ports.

The GAC said that it is making efforts to smooth trade with the five Central Asian countries - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It is also promoting normal passenger and cargo transport via road ports with bordering Central Asian countries, with the amount of cargo transported via some ports having exceeded pre-pandemic levels in 2019. 

The GAC has also promoted the establishment of a cooperation mechanism among animal and plant inspection and quarantine departments of these countries in a bid to maintain biological security at borders, strengthened cross-border anti-epidemic work and technical exchanges, and boosted the imports of more quality and safe agricultural and food products from Central Asian countries, it said.

Agricultural cooperation has always been one of the key aspects of pragmatic cooperation between China and Central Asian countries, and the countries constantly promote high-quality cooperation in such sectors as upgraded agricultural product processing and international trade, laying a sound foundation for win-win outcomes and closer interconnectivity, said Zhao Gancheng, a research fellow from the Shanghai Institute for International Studies.

"Agricultural trade may be only a starting point, with greater trade potential between China and Central Asian countries to be released," Zhao told the Global Times on Wednesday, noting that a free trade zone may be set up among these countries. 

Zhao also noted that the China-Central Asia Summit will inject fresh impetus into the high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by facilitating interconnectivity between China and the five Central Asian countries. 

"Economic and trade cooperation, especially financial security, will likely be an important theme of the summit amid declining US dollar dominance. They may also come up with new ideas to increase infrastructure investment in Central Asian countries under the BRI framework," he said, while noting that such cooperation does not target other parties.

Central Asia is where the BRI was first proposed and it has become a pacesetter for connectivity. China and Central Asian countries have jointly implemented major projects that have benefited the region and its people in a variety of ways, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday.

For example, the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center and the China-Kazakhstan Logistics Base in Lianyungang have been completed, providing a gateway to the Pacific for Central Asian countries. About 80 percent of the China-Europe Railway Express trains run through Central Asia. They are a steel caravan for the Eurasian continent.

In 2022, total trade between China and Central Asian countries hit a record high of $70 billion. China's imports of agricultural and mineral products from these countries grew more than 50 percent year-on-year last year, official data showed.

Global Times