Piraeus port in Athens, Greece, in which COSCO Group holds a majority stake, plays an important role in the Belt and Road Initiative. [Photo/China Daily] 

The Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday that China’s investment in countries and regions along the Belt and Road Initiative would pay off from a long-term perspective, and called on companies to jump on the bandwagon.

The ministry predicted that the value of outbound direct investment this year would remain stable. The comments came after foreign media reported that some projects under construction along the trade routes might fail to be profitable.

“In the long run, investment and projects in the countries and regions along the Belt and Road trading routes have a great significance in enhancing infrastructure interconnection, which will benefit local people,” ministry spokesman Sun Jiwen said at a news conference on Thursday.

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The ministry encouraged companies to get involved in the initiative, and move further up the global value chain.

Data from the ministry showed that China’s direct investment in the 53 countries and regions along the routes exceeded $14.53 billion in 2016, accounting for 8.5 percent of the country’s total outbound direct investment.

During the same period, the value of contracts that China signed with 61 countries and regions along the trading routes reached $126.03 billion, making up 51.6 percent of the value of China’s newly signed overseas projects.

Wang Zhile, a senior researcher at the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said one of the priorities of the initiative was “infrastructure interconnection”, as infrastructure construction in some developing economies has been lagging behind for a long time.

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Wang said: “International cooperation will promote job growth and economic development, as well as facilitate trade and economic exchanges among countries and regions.”

A number of infrastructure projects have been launched along the routes, including Pakistan’s Karakoram highway, the Karachi-Lahore motorway and the China-Laos railway. Turkey’s Istanbul-Ankara high-speed railway and the Hungary-Serbia railway have been progressing smoothly.

Those projects have played a positive role in improving the infrastructure level, and the ministry will deepen cooperation with countries and regions along the routes in the future, Sun said.

China Daily

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