China had maintained positive growth in its foreign trade for 13 months in a row by the end of June, despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global supply chains, which according to the World Trade Organization has downsized the world goods trade by 8 percent and the services trade by more than 20 percent.
Notably, Shanxi province in North China saw the fastest growth in foreign trade among all provincial-level regions on the Chinese mainland in the first half of this year, as its international trade has increased 108.4 percent compared with that of the first half of last year.
This is thanks to Shanxi's painstaking efforts to restructure its economy and upgrade its industry over recent years.
Coal mining was the backbone of the provincial economy for a long time. But that has become increasingly unsustainable as the country pursues green development. The province has therefore been making unswerving efforts to get rid of its dependence on the "black gold" and cultivating the processing trade and services trade as its main growth drivers and job creators.
At present, Shanxi trades with 63 countries along the Belt and Road, and in the first half of this year, its goods trade with these countries exceeded 26.09 billion yuan ($4.03 billion), up 107.5 percent year-on-year. And Shanxi's trade with countries and regions ratifying the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement reached 36.54 billion yuan from January to June, up 134.5 percent year-on-year.
Although the overall trade volume of Shanxi still pales compared with that of coastal provinces such as Guangdong, Jiangsu and Shandong, the robust growth momentum and great potential it has demonstrated prove that the economic restructuring efforts that the vast inland regions of the country have been making over the past years are beginning to pay off.
Among the 18 provincial-level regions whose growth rate is above the national average this year, 12 are in the central and western parts of the country. This shows the central and western regions that had long been regarded as suppliers of labor and natural resources are quickly forming their own comparative advantages in foreign trade as some industries are relocating there from the coastal regions, and local industries are booming thanks to the advancement of technology and productivity. The Belt and Road Initiative is also providing the region with more connections with the outside world pushing the former backyard of the Chinese economy to the forefront of the country's trade and opening-up.