Northwestern Chinese city woos world trade at 24th investment summit - AP Multimedia Newsroom
12 July 2018 Business News

NORTHWESTERN CHINESE CITY WOOS WORLD TRADE AT 24TH INVESTMENT SUMMIT

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Friendships were forged and deals were struck in northwestern China last week as the 24th Lanzhou Investment and Trade Fair got underway. From July 5 to 9, Lanzhou, a city of 3.6 million and the capital of Gansu province, played host to thousands of attendees from 41 countries, including 24 Fortune 500 companies.

 

Friendships were forged and deals were struck in northwestern China last week as the 24th Lanzhou Investment and Trade Fair got underway. From July 5 to 9, Lanzhou, a city of 3.6 million and the capital of Gansu province, played host to thousands of attendees from 41 countries, including 24 Fortune 500 companies.

With a prime position at the geographical center of China, Lanzhou was once known for trading tea and horses along the ancient Silk Road. International trade is now once again taking center stage under president Xi Jinping’s signature One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, with the fair aiming to further promote bilateral ties between China and the world.

Inside the main exhibition hall at the Gansu International Convention and Exhibition Center were six major focus areas, including Ecology and Health, Innovation and Scientific Achievements, and Silk Road International Cooperation. Everything from French wine to Iranian carpets and African handicrafts were on display, with representatives vying to strike deals with the international investors and buyers in attendance.

Dinuka Sameer, who imports Sri Lankan tea to China via his Sanahana business, was at the fair for the second year in a row. “We export our tea to a lot of counties all over the world and in China there’s a good market for it. Sri Lankan tea is less bitter than Chinese tea and a lot of people here prefer it,” he said. “I’ve participated in quite a few exhibitions like this over the years and now I sell tea all over China.”

International cooperation is nothing new for Lanzhou. As China’s only provincial capital to be divided by the wide and fast-flowing Yellow River, Lanzhou is home to no fewer than 60 bridges, the oldest of which was built in 1907 in collaboration with Germany. Back then the steel was transported from Hamburg to Lanzhou by ship, railway and finally horse and carriage, taking 23 months and incurring half the cost of the entire project.

Now, however, the same journey can be done in only 12 days thanks to a direct train line from the three-year-old International Land Port of Lanzhou. Lines also run to the rest of China, Russia and Singapore, making Lanzhou China’s main trading hub.

While agricultural goods such as wood and cotton are brought in from Russia and red wine, beer and milk powder come in from Europe, of the one billion yuan ($150 million) the 14 square-kilometer facility has done in trade since May last year, only three percent of that has been imports. The majority of activity comes from China exporting its high tech products, construction materials and white goods to other countries in the network.

By next year the dry port, which will receive 20 billion yuan ($3 billion) in investment, hopes to have increased business 10-fold, while similar facilities are expected to be opened in other Gansu cities. Both international and domestic firms, including Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and JD.com, are backing the project.

Su Yong, director of Lanzhou’s Information office said, “Although we are located in inland China, because of the strategy of the OBOR initiative, Lanzhou’s infrastructure is developing fast and it is more convenient than ever to connect to other cities around the world. We take the opportunity at the Lanzhou Investment and Trade Fair to build friendships and help people get to know our city.”

Along with tours of the port and the Lanzhou New Area business park, the fair also held a series of forums, summits and activities around the theme “Developing Economic and Trade Cooperation and Building a Green Silk Road”. Among 20 activities aimed at promoting investment and trade were five high-level summits, including the Silk Road and Development forum and the Central Asia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation forum.

Lin Biao, secretary of the Gansu Provincial Party Committee and director of the Standing Committee of the Provincial People’s Congress said, “Against the background of the Belt and Road, Gansu has great potential for development and there are broad prospects for deepening cooperation with all parties along the Silk Road.”

By Crystal Wilde

12 July 2018