By Dong Feng
Global Times - 2017/7/23
China reportedly become the largest investor in the Arab region in 2016, with investment worth 199.63 billion yuan ($29.5 billion), representing 31.9 percent of market share, surpassing the US and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In 2016, Arab countries attracted $30.8 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in total, the Xinhua News Agency reported on July 19, citing a report by the Arab Investment and Export Credit Guarantee Corp. China was followed by the UAE at 102.86 billion yuan or 16.4 percent, and the US at 47.37 billion yuan. "The growth was driven by the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative, considering the region is a crucial junction along the B&R route," Chen Fengying, a research fellow at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told Global Times on Sunday. The Middle East region is eyeing economic transformation through industrial cooperation, an area in which China can make its own contribution, Chen said. For example, China and Egypt are preparing to establish a Special Economic Zone Development in Egypt to drive the development of the Arab country's trade and economy, she said. "In terms of economic structure, China and Arab countries are highly complementary, which provides great potential for trade," Wang Jun, an expert at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, told the Global Times on Sunday, noting that China excels in industry and light industry and the Middle East region has abundant oil and gas. Under the framework of the Belt and Road initiative, China will export labor and technologies to Arab countries and will also strengthen educational and people-to-people exchanges, Wang said. Currently, Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE have already set up branches in the region, which are expected to increase investment in the future, Wang explained.