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Western China Turns From Inland Hinterland to the Frontier of Opening-up

By RAN ZHENG|Jul 23,2022

Chongqing- Over the years, Western China International Fair for Investment and Trade (WCIFIT) has evolved from a regional to a national fair, growing together with western China and becoming an essential platform for the country to promote western development and jointly build the Belt and Road (B&R).

WCIFIT has also witnessed Chongqing transform from the inland hinterland to the frontier of opening-up, ushering in a new development space.

Twenty-four countries (regions) participated in the 4th WCIFIT, where many Fortune 500 and well-known multinational enterprises from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the United States were involved.

ILSTC contributes to foreign investment

WCIFIT has also become an opportunity for the world. Foreign capital has increased its layout in Chongqing and across western China.

For example, Charoen Pokphand Group Co., Ltd. of Thailand (CP) has increased its investment in Chongqing for hog production and laying hens. The company has also expanded Lotus supermarket and Fresh Mart in Chongqing's communities. Marubeni Corporation, a Fortune 500 enterprise from Japan, signed a strategic agreement with Chongqing and Liangjiang New Area to carry out comprehensive cooperation.

All of these have to be attributed to the development of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor. In 2021, the ILSTC Forum, a national forum, was held at The 3rd WCIFIT for the first time.

Chongqing Cross-Border Highway Regular Lorry

Chongqing Cross-Border Highway Regular Lorry. (iChongqing file photo)

By constructing the Yuxinou (Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe) International Railway, the ILSTC for going overseas, and platforms such as National-Level New Areas and the China (Chongqing) Pilot Free Trade Zone (CFTZ), Chongqing has shown the potential for opening-up. 

"WCIFIT highlights the value of Chongqing in driving opening-up in western China," said Jing Li, Vice President of Chongqing Technology and Business University, Deputy Director of Research Center for Economy of Upper Reaches of the Yangtze River. 

The cross-border industrial chain is accelerating

In early July, the ILSTC ushered in a new partner. Laos Jinsui Agriculture Co., Ltd. signed an agreement with the New Land-Sea Corridor Operation Co., Ltd. to build a Laos banana display and trading center with the Chongqing Dry Port of ILSTC as a carrier and jointly build a cooperation platform for the China-Laos banana supply chain.

This cooperation stemmed from an initiative at the third WCIFIT. At the Keynote Forum of the third WCIFIT in 2021, countries including Laos and Chinese provinces along the ILSTC jointly issued the International Cooperation on the ILSTC (Chongqing) Initiative.

The ILSTC has coordinated the intermodal freight train in China, Asia, and Europe. Commodities from ASEAN countries and countries along the Belt and Road, Europe, and the United States have continuously entered Chongqing and western China's market.

Meanwhile, the construction of cross-border industrial chains and supply chains is accelerating. Cross-border enterprises and institutions have settled in western China.

At the WCIFIT this year, the 2022 CCI-ILSTC International Cooperation Forum will discuss in-depth the excellent use of the ILSTC to develop industrial integration and deepen economic and trade cooperation along the Belt and Road.

LVMH and Amazon debut at WCIFIT

International leading consumer brands such as LVMH, Kering, and Galeries Lafayette, as well as cross-border e-commerce enterprises such as eBay, Amazon, Alibaba International Station, and JD.com, debut at this year's WCIFIT. Since Chongqing was approved to build an international consumption center city last year, it has attracted all parties to join hands and get involved in Chongqing's opening-up.

The WCIFIT has developed from product displays to hundreds of activities covering intelligent manufacturing, channel logistics, biomedicine, retail consumption, "Internet +," and other fields.

"In previous WCIFITs, Chongqing and even the provinces and cities in western China have demonstrated their advantages and characteristic industries and continuously attract investment in the industrial chain," said Li.

He continued that this has gathered new momentum for transforming and upgrading the industrial economy and injecting strong impetus into the opening-up of western China.

(Zhu Qinzhuo, as an intern, also contributed to this report.)


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