JINAN -- East China's Shandong province reported a 12-percent year-on-year growth in trade with Belt and Road (B&R) countries in the first quarter, despite a slight drop in its overall foreign trade due to the coronavirus epidemic, local authorities said Wednesday.
In the first quarter of this year, Shandong's total foreign trade value was 446.75 billion yuan (about $63 billion), down 3.6 percent from the same period last year.
Imports and exports of foreign-invested enterprises in Shandong dropped 17.7 percent to 104.39 billion yuan in the first quarter, while foreign trade of private enterprises in the province registered a 2.9-percent growth to 299.36 billion yuan, according to Shi Yong, deputy director of Qingdao Customs.
Shandong's trade with countries along the Belt and Road totaled 145.4 billion yuan, up 12 percent from the same period last year, accounting for 32.5 percent of its total foreign trade in the first quarter.
Zhang Yibing, deputy director of Jinan Customs, said that the increase was driven by strong growth in trade with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, smooth operation of China-Europe freight train services and the growth of bulk commodity imports.
"Trade with Belt and Road countries has become an important support for stable development of foreign trade in Shandong," said Zhang.
Though the coronavirus epidemic has brought some impact on the province's foreign trade, it has also forced the industrial and supply chains to seek upgrades, and brought new opportunities for sustained and high-quality development, according to Shi.