Shanghai aims to be a 'brideghead' in trade with countries under Belt and Road Initiative

Song Yingge
Song Yingge
The world’s largest port is set to play a more important role to boost implementation.
Song Yingge
Song Yingge

Shanghai aims to play the role of a "bridgehead" by expanding its overseas trading under China's “Belt and Road” initiative.

Over the past three years, Shanghai has invested US$5.5 billion in 246 projects in countries along the Belt and Road and sealed contracts worth US$21.7 billion, which soared 160 percent and 9.4 percent annually respectively on average, said Tang Zhiping, deputy secretary-general of the Shanghai government.

Shanghai’s trade with countries and regions along the Belt and Road has exceeded 500 billion yuan (US$76 billion), taking up over 20 percent of the city’s total trade.

Echoing the central government’s call to set up more advanced infrastructure to link China and Eurasian countries, Shanghai aims to be a “bridgehead,” whereby the city will grow its trade with Belt and Road countries and regions.

Shanghai Electric, one of China’s largest industrial equipment producers, has built nearly 30 electrical substations by mid-2017 in countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Malaysia under the initiative, while the company has netted US$2.4 billion in contracts to build power stations in those countries.

Its income overseas accounted for 14 percent of its total last year. It has also merged with foreign manufacturing giants in the Netherlands and Italy.

Shanghai-based China COSCO Shipping Corp has assigned 131 of its ships for BRI by mid-2017. These vessels have a total handling capacity of 1.2 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit) — standard capacity for a container — a year, accounting for 68 percent of total capacity of the shipper's container ships.

After acquiring a 67-percent stake of Greece’s largest port last year, China COSCO has been upgrading the port with automated technologies, “injecting China’s advanced independent technology to the world,” said Zhang Dayu, deputy managing director of COSCO Shipping Ports.

A local private company, Shanghai Aowei Technology Development Co, has helped produce the first batch of capacitor vehicles (electric buses that are fully charged in several minutes by using ultracapacitors) in Minsk, capital of Belarus, in May after it joined the China-Belarus Industrial Park which was established under the initiative.

The Minsk government has announced the production of another 60 buses by 2018 to help make the city “greener.”

In order to track more comprehensively China’s freight trade with relevant countries through Shanghai port under BRI,  the Shanghai Shipping Exchange launched the “Belt and Road” Shipping Indices on July 11.

The indices showed that by the end of September the value of trade between China and countries under the BRI has grown 13 percent from 2015 while it rose 4.1 percent from one month earlier.

“Shanghai, the world’s largest port, is expected to take a more important role in helping boost the initiative’s implementation,” said Liu Yue, manager of the exchange's information department.

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