Belt and Road set to boost development in Mideast, Africa

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/8/24 9:44:57

The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative will provide countries in the Middle East and Africa with more opportunities and synergize with their own development strategies, officials and scholars have said.

Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

Kuwait was among the first Arab countries to sign a cooperation agreement with China under the framework, as well as one of the founding members of the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Being a country whose oil and gas sector accounts for about 94 percent of its export revenue, Kuwait has been trying to modernize its economic structure and reverse imbalances in its housing and demographics.

In 2010, the Kuwaiti government released "Kuwait 2035," or the Kuwait National Development Plan, formulated to transform the country into a regional financial hub by 2035 via 164 strategic development projects.

The Belt and Road Initiative, in such circumstances, offered a chance for Kuwait to optimize its economic structure and could dovetail well with the country's national development strategy, said Cheng Yongru, economic and commercial counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Kuwait.

According to China's General Administration of Customs, trade between China and Kuwait reached 5.47 billion US dollars in the first half of 2017, up 28.6 percent year on year. In 2016, bilateral trade was 9.37 billion dollars.

Similar to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia announced a "Saudi Vision 2030" growth strategy last year in a bid to diversify its heavily oil-dependent economy.

As the world's second largest economy, China has a competitive advantage in manufacturing and industrial engineering, areas Saudi Arabia needs to develop, said Sailim Aljamidi, a renowned scholar in politics in Saudi Arabia.

Promoting the docking of the Belt and Road Initiative with the "Saudi Vision 2030" growth strategy will facilitate the latter's economic transformation, and benefit the peoples of both countries, Aljamidi added.

Meanwhile, the relationship between Sudan and China has reached new heights after the two countries agreed to elevate their ties to a more advanced level.

"The two countries are heading towards consolidating their standing ties on mutual benefits and sharing of balanced development," Mohamed Hassan Saeed, a Sudanese political Analyst, told Xinhua.

"Since the visit of the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to Beijing in 2015, where he agreed with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to upgrade bilateral ties to a more strategic level, the two countries have achieved remarkable progress in the development of relations in all fields," said Saeed.

"The two countries can utilize their potentialities and enter into new economic partnerships, particularly in the field of agriculture, where Sudan enjoys a huge labor force, fertile lands and water resources, and China, in turn, possesses advanced agricultural technology," he said.

Sudan was one of the first countries to embrace the Belt and Road projects, of which it stands to greatly benefit, including in solidifying its relationship with China, Saeed said.

He believes that the initiative would bring about great economic gains for developing countries, including Sudan.

"The initiative is likely to reactivate Sudan's internal and external trade activities and brings great investment opportunities for Sudan under the huge projects that China would establish in countries covered by the initiative," he said.

Posted in: ECONOMY

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