BEIJING, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Solid progress has been made in promoting unimpeded trade among countries and regions participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), according to a report released Monday.
Efforts invested in the initiative have liberalized and facilitated trade and investment in the participating countries and regions, lowered the costs of trade and business, and released growth potential, enabling the participants to engage in broader and deeper economic globalization, it said.
"A network of free trade areas involving China and other Belt and Road (B&R) countries has taken shape," it said.
China has signed or upgraded free trade agreements with ASEAN, Singapore, Pakistan, Georgia and other countries and regions, and signed an economic and trade cooperation agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union, according to the report.
Trade in goods between China and other B&R countries reached 1.3 trillion U.S. dollars in 2018, up 16.4 percent year on year, while that in services rose 18.4 percent from 2016 to 97.76 billion dollars in 2017.
The BRI increased trade flows among participating countries by up to 4.1 percent, according to a World Bank study that analyzes the impact of the BRI on trade in 71 potentially participating countries.
The report also underlined faster pace of trade model innovation, with new trade models such as cross-border e-commerce becoming an important driver of trade among participating countries.
The document, prepared by the office of the leading group for promoting the BRI, was released ahead of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held from April 25 to 27 in Beijing.