China’s investments in India, Pakistan and other South Asian countries climbed to $12.29 billion and the regional trade crossed $111 billion as the world’s second largest economy seeks to make inroads into the subcontinent with its Silk Road initiative.

China’s cooperation with South Asian nations will be very broad thanks to growing shared interests and market demand, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Commerce Gao Yan said.

A round of key projects has been launched following the China-proposed Belt and Road (Silk Road) Initiative to promote economic growth of the countries and boost regional cooperation, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Gao as saying.

By the end of 2015, China’s direct investment in South Asian countries stood at USD 12.29 billion and South Asia’s investment in China totalled USD 890 million, she said.

Besides plans to step up investments in India, China launched USD 46 billion Economic Corridor with Pakistan through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). The corridor to connect Western China to Pakistan’s Gwadar deep seaport on the Arabian Sea in the south was announced last year.

China, the largest single lender to Sri Lanka, also invested over USD seven billion in the island nation.

Last year, trade grew 4.9 per cent from the previous year to USD 111.22 billion between China and eight members under the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation initiative, including Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan, Gao said. The India-China bilateral trade totalled to USD 65.16 billion last year with trade deficit in favour of Beijing mounting to USD 48.68 billion.

Gao spoke to the media here today ahead of the 4th China-South Asia Expo and the 24th China Kunming Import and Export Fair, which will be held in Kunming, Yunnan Province from June 12 to 17.