The Growth of Foreign Trade between China and Countries along the Belt & Road in 2019 reached 10.8 percent, 7.4 percentage points higher than the overall growth rate in foreign trade, customs data showed on Tuesday.

With the deepening of the country’s opening up, its circle of friends has kept growing.

In 2019, the number of China-Europe freight trains moving via Manzhouli port in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region reached 2,167, increasing by 20.3 percent from 2018, with freight value exceeding 26 billion yuan (about 3.7 billion U.S. dollars).

“The growth rate of the freight turnover exceeded 20 percent in three consecutive years. The number of returning trains increased greatly by 7.1 percent, accomplishing an increase in three years in a row,” said Lei Jianjun, Chief of Manzhouli Station Customs.

With the continuous advancement of the Belt & Road Initiative, Chinese enterprises are going global at a faster pace and with higher quality products

Taking the coloured ceramics from Hunan Hualian Ceramics Industry Ltd, a newly listed company, as an example.

Their high-quality ceramics and good craftsmanship have made their products much sought after in the international market with the export value exceeding 600 million yuan in 2019.

“Our customers are from the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Europe. Basically every countries in Europe has our products,” said Peng Long, Secretary to the Board of the Hunan Hualian Ceramics Industry Ltd.

The Belt & Road Initiative has not only narrowed the distance between China and countries along the routes but also injected new vitality into traditional industries.

“For example, our engineering machinery has achieved remarkable results in Belt and Road countries’ markets with a growth rate of 68 percent. The growth rate of our tradition ceramic products reached 78 percent. The products were sold to 181 countries and regions,” said Tang Yunfeng, chief of Changsha Customs.

Customs statistics show that in 2019, the EU, ASEAN and the United States were China’s top three trading partners.

China’s imports and exports with the EU were 4.86 trillion yuan, an increase of 8 percent year on year; its imports and exports with ASEAN countries were 4.43 trillion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 14.1 percent; and its imports and exports with the U.S. were 3.73 trillion yuan, down 10.7 percent year on year.

At the same time, China’s imports and exports with the Belt & Road Countries were 9.27 trillion yuan, a year on year increase of 10.8 percent, which was 7.4 percentage points higher than the overall growth rate of China’s foreign trade.

“In 2019, China’s trade growth rate with the Belt & Road Countries was significantly higher than that of traditional markets, which showed our enhanced foreign trade resilience. The expanding circle of friends helps us to expand the international market space, optimise our international market structure and increase the resilience of China’s foreign trade development.”

“Meanwhile, diversified development is also good for our economic development, enhancing the potential and vitality of our economy.

It also helps to promote the economic and trade development of the Belt & Road countries, and make important contributions to world trade and global economic growth & prosperity,” said Yan Min, a division head at the State Information Centre’s Department of Economic Forecasting.