China's Belt and Road Investment Accelerates

Xiamen Port
Xiamen Port

Published Apr 2, 2018 6:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

China’s investment in Belt and Road countries could reach $300 billion by 2030, more than double the current level, predicts Standard Chartered. 

The initiative has accelerated growth in the nation's foreign direct investment flows which were the second-largest (after the U.S.) among single countries in 2015 and 2016. China’s foreign direct investment in Belt and Road countries reached $129.4 billion in 2016, rising 12 percent year-on-year and accounting for nine percent of China’s total. 

A cross-regional network of railway, port and pipeline projects is taking shape. For example, the China-Europe Railway Express has operated 4,000 trains, covering 27 cities in 21 provinces in China and 29 cities in 11 countries in Europe as of June last year. 

It is estimated that China has invested at least $20 billion in ports and terminals over the past two years. Late last year, annual cargo throughput at Ningbo-Zhoushan port reached one billion tons. Located on the south wing of Yangtze River Economic Belt, Ningbo-Zhoushan Port has the largest deepwater berths and most arrivals of China's ports. The port’s sea routes have increased to 86 as a result of China’s Belt and Road initiative. Additionally, the port launched sea-rail transport services with 11 trains providing services to 36 cities in 14 provinces in China as well as countries in central and northern Asia and eastern Europe. Container handling volume of its sea-rail transport is expected to surpass 400,000 standard containers this year, a 60 percent increase year-over-year.

Xiamen, a port city in East China's Fujian province, is also emerging as a key hub. It now operates five freight train services to Europe. Goods such as electrical products, clothes, food, car parts and construction materials are now being shipped by sea to Xiamen from Guangdong, Zhejiang, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. In 2017, Xiamen Port's throughput reached 10.38 million TEUs, ranking it 14th in the world.

China is seeing stronger trade links with Belt and Road countries and its outbound investment and project construction have accelerated along the network, according to a Standard Chartered global research report. Belt and Road investments are being seen in increasingly diversified sectors, with a growing presence of privately owned enterprises and small and medium-sized businesses, says Standard Chartered.