It’s been five years since Beijing announced the ambitious multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Chinese companies have already built 82 economic and trade cooperation zones in 24 countries along the BRI routes.

The project has created more than 240,000 jobs in BRI countries, according to China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi.

“Over the past five years, trade volume in goods between China and countries involved in the initiative exceeded $5 trillion, and direct investment stands at over $70 billion,” said Yang Jiechi, head of the office of Foreign Affairs of China’s Communist Party.

He explained that under the framework of the initiative, over 11,000 freight trains are already running between China and Europe. They link nearly 100 cities across the region.

Yang also said that construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has increased the South Asian nation’s GDP by two percent. The Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway is expected to boost Kenya’s GDP by 1.5 percent.

Over 140 countries and international organizations have inked agreements on jointly building the Belt and Road project with China since its announcement by Chinese President Xi Jinping five years ago. BRI (also known as the One Belt and One Road Initiative) aims to boost connectivity and cooperation between East Asia, Europe and East Africa.

The initiative is expected to significantly boost global trade, cutting trading costs by half for the countries involved, according to expert estimates.

Beijing, which is focused on trade-boosting infrastructure projects along the path of the ancient Silk Road, had earlier announced plans to extend the BRI to the Arctic by developing shipping routes. The government said it would encourage enterprises to build infrastructure and conduct commercial trial voyages, paving the way for Arctic shipping routes that would form a “Polar Silk Road.”