中文 |

Yunnan border trade to get boost from new links

By : China Daily | Published: 2014-January-8

As China strives to strengthen cooperation with neighbors on the western border, the province is building trade corridors with South and Southeast Asia, Hu Yongqi reports from Kunming

Pong Jaw has been involved in the jade trading business in Ruili, Yunnan province, for more than 20 years, bringing him wealth of more than 10 million yuan ($1.6 million).

His business is a microcosm of the trade between Myanmar and Yunnan.

The province's annual trade with Myanmar, India and Bangladesh was about $2.8 billion in 2012, a dramatic increase from $416 million in 2000, said Ren Jia, president of the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences.

For China as a whole, trade with India, Bangladesh and Myanmar was $82 billion in 2012, more than 18 times the level in 2000.

Antiquated transport links between northern Myanmar and Yunnan have been a pain in the neck for Pong Jaw. But a recent conference in Kunming, the provincial capital, showed that his dream of a new traffic line is set to come true in the near future.

Government delegates met at the first joint study group meeting of the BCIM Economic Corridor on Dec 18 in Kunming and signed a cooperation agreement and joint research plan covering transportation, trade and investment. A detailed timeline for specific transport projects will be released by September or October.

Pong Jaw said that these developments, especially the transport projects, will promote economic interaction among merchants in Myanmar and China.

Setting priorities

The conference grew out of a previous forum, the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Regional Economic Cooperation Forum, which was limited to academic participants for 14 years.

An official at the National Development and Reform Commission said China is striving to strengthen cooperation with its neighbors on the western border.

In May, Premier Li Keqiang proposed a BCIM economic corridor on his visit to India.

And the Silk Road economic belt, proposed by President Xi Jinping, is also meant to revive the trade along the Asia-Europe route that existed for centuries.

Yunnan was one of the origins of the tea and salt trade, which ran through the current Tibet autonomous region and onward to India, Myanmar and Bangladesh since the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).

Since that era, there's been a tradition for individual interactions during the course of trade and exchanges.

The "Ancient Tea and Horse Road" in Yunnan was also part of the South Silk Road and "we hope the BCIM economic corridor can benefit from and contribute to the restoration of the silk roads", said Ren.

Li Jiheng, governor of Yunnan, said the first China-South Asia Expo in June proved a success in building a communication mechanism between Yunnan and Bangladesh, Myanmar and India.

Navnidhi Sharma, attache of the East Asian department of the Ministry of External Affairs of India, said cooperation needs to involve the central governments, provincial governments and also the private sector in each country.

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