BRI: China’s food trade soars to $76.10b in 2023

Marks 162% increase since 2013 and 10.4% rise compared to 2022

APP September 17, 2023
A man walks past the China National Convention Center, a venue of the upcoming Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, May 12, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS


China’s food trade with countries along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) surged to 553.82 billion yuan ($76.10 billion) in the first eight months of this year, marking a remarkable 10.4% increase compared to the same period in 2022. This substantial growth, which represents a 162% increase since 2013, was announced during the inaugural conference on import and export food safety cooperation of the Belt and Road held in Nanning, South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The conference brought together over 100 representatives and officials from more than 20 BRI nations, as reported by Global Times on Saturday. Its primary objective was to establish a new platform for international cooperation and governance in food safety among BRI participant countries. During the event, a BRI food safety cooperation initiative was adopted, with a focus on deepening pragmatic collaboration, sharing supervisory experiences, and advocating for the creation of internationally recognised rules and standards.

China’s customs department has been actively engaging with BRI countries in recent years to enhance food safety governance. This collaboration has led to a significant expansion and diversification of cooperation. As of June 2023, China has signed over 200 cooperation agreements related to the Belt and Road Initiative, involving 152 countries and 32 international organisations. These agreements have resulted in a substantial increase in the variety and volume of food trade, highlighted Lü Weihong, Deputy Chief of the General Administration of Customs.

Over the past decade, China has established customs inspection and quarantine cooperation with 171 countries and regions, along with nearly 400 international cooperation agreements regarding agricultural and food product access, Lü added. This closer cooperation between customs authorities has enabled a growing number of unique and characteristic foods from BRI countries to enter the Chinese market. In 2022, China’s food trade with BRI countries reached 786.31 billion yuan, reflecting a remarkable 135.3% increase compared to 2013.

20th China-ASEAN Expo commences

In parallel, the 20th China-ASEAN Expo commenced in Nanning, the capital of South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, emphasising cooperation and economic integration between China and ASEAN countries. Themed “Work Together for a Harmonious Home and a Shared Future Promoting High-Quality Development of the Belt and Road and Building an Epicentre of Growth,” the expo underscores the significance of mutual understanding and collaboration for regional development and prosperity, reported CGTN.

China has been ASEAN’s largest trade partner for 14 consecutive years, and both sides have held the title of each other’s largest trade partner for three consecutive years. In 2022, trade between China and ASEAN surpassed $970 billion, showcasing the deepening economic bonds between the two regions, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce. Through this expo, China aims to explore opportunities, tackle challenges, and enhance cooperation with all involved parties. The event will prioritise the high-quality implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP), promote trade and investment liberalisation, boost regional connectivity, and foster an open regional economy, as stated by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning. The expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit will last for four days.


Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2023.

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