BEIJING, April 27 (Xinhua) -- Trade and investment cooperation between China and countries along the Belt and Road has been smooth and robust this year, a commerce ministry official said Thursday.
Goods trade between China and Belt and Road countries surged 26.2 percent year on year to more than 1.65 trillion yuan (about 240 billion U.S. dollars) in the first quarter of this year, according to Sun Jiwen, spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).
Chinese exports to Belt and Road countries totaled 937.6 billion yuan in the three months, up 15.8 percent from the same period last year, while imports from those countries jumped 42.9 percent to 717.7 billion yuan, Sun told a press briefing.
In the meantime, China made 2.95 billion U.S. dollars of non-financial direct investment to 43 Belt and Road countries, and 781 new companies with investment from Belt and Road countries were set up in China with a total investment of 8.45 billion yuan, said Sun.
Both goods and services from China are becoming increasingly popular among Belt and Road countries, he said, citing ongoing overseas projects such as the China-Belarus Industrial Park and the Nairobi-Mombasa railway.
Chinese enterprises signed 952 project contracts in 61 countries along the Belt and Road worth 22.27 billion dollars in the Jan.-March period, more than half of the total value of contracts in Q1, according to Sun.
Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road is a transnational network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa, promoting common development among all countries involved.
The latest data comes less than a month before the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which opens on May 14 in Beijing.
Thus far, 28 heads of state and government leaders have confirmed their attendance at the forum. Other delegates include officials, entrepreneurs, financiers and reporters from 110 countries, and representatives of 61 international organizations.
During the forum, the MOC will hold a parallel meeting on smoothing trade to discuss trade facilitation, two-way investment and sustainable development with more than 100 foreign officials and representatives from international organizations and enterprises, according to Sun.