China Focus: Digital trade, a new engine of growth for BRI countries

Photo taken on Sept. 4, 2022 shows e-CNY (digital yuan) payment cards at a financial services exhibition during the 2022 China International Trade in Services Fair at Shougang Park in Beijing, capital of China. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING – Thousands of years ago in ancient China, traders traveled the Silk Road on camels and horses, overcoming hardship to sell silk, tea and other Chinese delicacies to the West, while importing glass products, beads, fruits and vegetables from abroad.

At a live broadcast room of the ongoing 2022 China International Trade in Services Fair in Beijing today, a Sri Lankan streamer showcases various cookies and black teas from Sri Lanka to customers across China at the using just a cell phone.

With just a few clicks of a finger, customers can purchase alpaca dolls from Peru, soap from Syria, rice and coffee beans from Laos and other products from countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road” (BRI), the goods being delivered directly. at their doorstep.

The rise of these convenient services can be attributed to the success of mobile internet and digital commerce. At CIFTIS this year, experts pointed out that digital has become a new engine of growth for BRI countries.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has led to unprecedented supply chain disruption,” said Zhang Xiangchen, deputy director-general of the World Trade Organization. “However, it has also become a catalyst for businesses around the world to dramatically accelerate the delivery of services through digital networks.”

According to Zhang, digitalization is fostering a new circle of innovation in services, which presents great opportunities for economic growth. “Global commerce is constantly being shaped and reshaped by technological innovations.”

A report titled “Digital Trade: Development and Cooperation”, which was released at CIFTIS, shows that global cross-border trade in digital services exceeded $3.8 trillion in 2021, accounting for 63.6% of total services trade. .

China’s digital trade is growing rapidly, with its total imports and exports of digital services growing 22.3% year-on-year in 2021 to reach $359.69 billion.

“The Digital Silk Road plays a leading role in high-quality BRI cooperation,” said Wang Xiaohong, deputy head of the information department of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

“China’s software information technology, BeiDou satellite navigation system, blockchain technology and many digital products and services, such as games, animation, film and television, have all been widely used in BRI countries,” Wang said.

At CIFTIS 2022, which kicked off on Wednesday, some companies from BRI countries also expressed their hope for further digital business cooperation with China.

In the Pakistan pavilion, Aqeel Ahmed Chaudhry, director of WINZA, a Pakistani jewelry brand, was fluent in Mandarin while presenting his jewelry to Chinese and foreign customers during the six-day event. The dazzling array of over 100 pieces of jewelry has attracted many customers.

Chaudhry has operated a store in Shanghai for three years and plans to open another in northeast China’s city of Shenyang in October. During this year’s CIFTIS, he visited shopping malls in Beijing, hoping to take advantage of Beijing’s preferential policies for foreign businesses and open a new store in the Chinese capital next year.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has changed people’s shopping habits, making online shopping more popular, especially among young people. As a businessman, I have to adapt to the latest trend” , he said, adding that negotiations regarding online sales of his brand on major Chinese e-commerce platforms and Tmall are ongoing.

“If businesses can make better use of digital tools, they will become more efficient and competitive,” he said.

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