XI’AN, China―A restored ancient Chinese trade route in this city is opening its doors to Filipino workforce and businessmen as part of a plan to create borderless trade among Asean members and the so-called Silk Road countries.
The Tang West Market Group, a group of business people of varied nationalities, is offering huge support to Filipino merchants who are willing to set up enterprises particularly in food that can help liven up the culinary mood in the city.
“We’re very interested to have Philippine culture here in Tang West Market. Our interest is more on the cultural side. We want to house as much culture as possible, create a synergy that will draw in more tourists in this place,” Silk Road Specialized Committee of the Institute of Dunhuan and Turpan Studies of China Prof. Ji Hu said over the weekend.
There are more than 200 establishments owned by some 4,000 foreign businessmen in the city.
Hu said a Filipino businessman used to a restaurant in the city, but was not able to keep the business for some reason.
He said that the group was now considering leasing out commercial spaces to Filipino entrepreneurs at very minimal costs “practically free” for the first few years “just like what we did for our Indian investors.”
Many Indian merchants are operating within the Tang West Market including owners of restaurants and shops selling Indian goods.
Interested Filipinos who want to put up businesses in the Tang West Market are advised to secure work visa. The Tang West Market Group said it would assist them in the processing of documentary requirements including loan availment from China banks.
Tourist traffic in Xi’an peaks to a high of 100,000 per day during the Spring Festival every Lunar New Year.
The Tang West Market Group wants to create more cultural events to draw more tourists.
Hu said Filipino culture is a rich culture that could help drive the local economy of Xi’an and create trade opportunities for Philippine exporters to bring in furniture, the best Filipino food products and even Filipino fashion.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative is an ambitious program to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks along six corridors with the aim of improving regional integration, increasing trade and stimulating economic growth.
The BRI comprises a Silk Road Economic Belt – a trans-continental passage that links China with Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, Russia and Europe by land – and a 21st century Maritime Silk Road, a sea route connecting China’s coastal regions with Southeast and South Asia, the South Pacific, the Middle East and Eastern Africa, all the way to Europe.
The program will involve $1 trillion in investments, largely in infrastructure development for ports, roads, railways and airports, as well as power plants and telecommunications networks.
It covers more than 70 countries, accounting for about 65 percent of the world’s population and around a third of the world’s gross domestic product.