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The China-Central Asia Summit will soon be held in Xi’an. Could you brief us on the commercial cooperation between China and the five Central Asian countries?(2023-05-11)

China and the five Central Asian countries have been deepening practical commercial cooperation since they established diplomatic ties over 30 years ago. They have achieved many tangible outcomes by developing vigorous, mutually beneficial commercial ties that are rich in content.

First, ever-improving institutional arrangements. In 2022, the heads of state of China and the five Central Asian countries jointly announced that they would build a China-Central Asia community with a shared future. Under the framework of China-Central Asia cooperation, economic and trade ministers of the six countries convened the China-Central Asia Meeting of Economic and Trade Ministers on April 18 to exchange views on trade, investment, the digital economy, green development, connectivity, as well as multilateral and sub-national cooperation. To date, China has signed documents on Belt and Road cooperation, formulated mid- to long-term plans on commercial cooperation and signed investment protection agreements with all Central Asian countries, putting in place increasingly full-fledged commercial cooperation mechanisms.

Second, quantitative and qualitative trade development. In 2022, China and the five Central Asian countries achieved the target of USD70 billion of trade ahead of schedule. Their trade from January to March this year increased by 22% year-on-year with strong development momentum. At the same time, their trade mix has improved. In 2022, China’s imports of agricultural, energy and mineral products from Central Asian countries increased by more than 50% year-on-year. Its exports of mechanical and electrical products to Central Asian countries grew by 42% year-on-year. China’s trade through cross-border e-commerce with Central Asia was up by 95% year-on-year, and nearly 300 Central Asian enterprises have established presence on China’s e-commerce platforms. More and more high-quality specialty products from Central Asia are entering the China market.

Third, investment cooperation has benefited all sides. By the end of March this year, China’s outward direct investment stock in the five Central Asian countries topped US$15 billion and completed turnover of project contracting reached US$63.9 billion. We have made continued efforts to advance cooperation on such areas as infrastructure, oil and gas, mining, process manufacturing, medical and health care, education, science and technology and digital economy. A series of projects have been implemented successfully in the five Central Asian countries to boost industrial upgrading, connectivity and betterment of people’s lives.

MOFCOM is ready to work with Central Asian counterparts to take the opportunity of the Summit to build on the sound momentum of trade and investment and scale new heights in China-Central Asia trade and economic cooperation. Thank you.