Shanxi's foreign trade roars back with strong figures over first five months
A worker at Taiyuan Heavy Industry Transit Equipment helps to hoist high-speed train wheels before being exported. [Photo by Li Zhaomin for China Daily]
Shanxi's foreign trade has registered robust growth momentum in the first five months of this year, with its year-on-year growth ranking top among provincial regions in China during the period.
Data from Taiyuan Customs shows the import and export volume of the province in North China reached 90.46 billion yuan ($13.99 billion) from January to May, a 110.3 percent jump from the same period last year.
Its export value surged 125.8 percent year-on-year to 56.11 billion yuan while its imports stood at 34.35 billion yuan, up 89 percent year-on-year.
The Belt and Road Initiative, which promotes global connectivity and exchanges, has brought Shanxi new development opportunities and helped with its export expansion.
From January to May, the trade between Shanxi and BRI-involved countries and regions reached 21.6 billion yuan, accounting for 23.9 percent of the province's total.
Major trading partners, including the United States, Japan, the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members and other BRICS countries－Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa－all reported an upswing in trade with Shanxi. They together contributed nearly 60 percent to the province's total foreign trade.
During the period, the province's exports to the EU rocketed by 124.9 percent to 8.93 billion yuan, after the other two major export destinations－the US, which posted a 96.7 percent year-on-year increase to 16.16 billion yuan, and Japan, which recorded 10.43 billion yuan, up 206.2 percent.
Qixian county, one of the hometowns of Jinshang－traditional merchants originating from Shanxi－was once a key stop on an ancient tea trading route spanning China, Mongolia and Russia.
Hundreds of years ago, merchants from Shanxi shipped tea to Qixian after their purchase from Fujian province in East China. Then their shipments went all the way northward to Kyakhta, a border city in Russia, where the tea would be distributed to different parts of Europe.
Nowadays, the ancient county, which has been given a new lease on life by the BRI, has become a key glassware production and export center.
Home to 47 glassware manufacturers, Qixian produces about half of the country's total output of handblown glass products. Approximately 70 percent of Qixian-made handblown glassware is shipped overseas, said Hu Xiaofeng, director of the county's glassware industry development center.
The flourishing industry provides steady jobs for more than 20,000 local residents, with their per capita annual income surpassing 50,000 yuan.
Honghai, a glassware manufacturer in Qixian, recorded an average annual increase of 20 percent in exports over the past few years.
The company has set up an office in Dubai, a trading hub in the Middle East, to expand its sales, said Li Jiansheng, its founder, adding that some 60 percent of Honghai's glass products are exported to Arab countries involved in the BRI.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology approved the establishment of a BRI-focused characteristic industries cooperation zone for small and medium-sized enterprises in Qixian in 2019.
The county will initiate construction on a new town focusing on the cooperation with BRI-involved countries and regions in the glass industry during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), according to the local government. The project will cover 5 square kilometers and involve 5 billion yuan in investment.
In addition to glass products, smartphones, integrated circuit components, solar cells and medical supplies also gained export momentum in Shanxi during the first five months.
Mechanical and electrical products accounted for the lion's share of the exports. Their overseas sales amounted to 45.04 billion yuan during the five-month period, accounting for 80.3 percent of the province's total exports and representing a rise of 171.1 percent year-on-year.
Shanxi exported more than 3.48 million solar cells worth 750 million yuan from January to May, a year-on-year increase of 99.9 percent and 125.3 percent, respectively.
Shanxi Lu'an Photovoltaics Technology, a subsidiary of Jinneng Holding Power Group, ranks the fourth-largest solar cell provider worldwide in terms of shipment, according to rankings released by PV InfoLink, a market research company, in February. The largest exporter in Changzhi city, the company has expanded its sales to more than 20 countries and regions.
Li Shu contributed to this story.