Thursday, June 20, 2019

South Asia can benefit from BRI

Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali today said that South Asian states could benefit immensely from the Chinese-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Highlighting BRI’s emphasis on connectivity, he said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor under the BRI could play an instrumental role in boosting connectivity in the region.
“Connectivity is also important for a land-locked country like Nepal,” he said addressing the fourth international conference on ‘Belt and Road for Development and prosperity of South Asia’ in the Capital. “The BRI assistance could prove crucial in realising Nepal’s target of graduating to a middle-income country by 2030,” he said, adding that Nepal believes BRI is a reliable and result-oriented platform for cooperation. “Nepal expected capital investment and transfer of modern technology under the BRI projects.”
Our development efforts are constrained by inadequate financial resources and the BRI can be a remedy to it,” he said, adding that Nepal hopes to get benefited from the BRI investment, cooperation and exchanges. Gyawali also said that the BRI had become a fact of the present time due to its inherent policy of cooperation, collaboration and connectivity in diverse sectors.
“Economic integration in the South Asia and with China is weak, so there is a need of massive expansion of development cooperation and collaboration in trade, investment, tourism and culture,” he stated, pointing towards the need of mega infrastructure to increase connectivity to facilitate the movement of people and goods.
About 50 countries and 29 international agencies are connected with the BRI.
Chinese ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi, on the occasion, said that BRI is a platform for all participants. She also added that it could help boost economic and social development in the South Asian region. “The BRI aimed at delivering sustainable development results,” she said, appreciating Nepal for its support to and cooperation in the initiative. “BRI has attracted more partners, businesses and friends from which all the member countries and organisations can get benefit.”
China has become Nepal’s largest source of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and tourists which is having positive impact on economic growth, she added.
Presenting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), cross-sea bridge in the Maldives, Hambantota port in Sri Lanka and China-Afghanistan cooperation as the successful BRI projects, she said that they were benefitting both the partner countries. “Sooner or later India will also join the initiative.”
“BRI is open, inclusive and transparent and does not include any hidden geopolitical agenda,” she said, dismissing the doubt of BRI being taken as a debt-trap by some of the experts in Nepal.
Urging China to extend support in developing key infrastructure, former vice chair of the National Planning Commission (NPC) Dr Shankar Prasad Sharma, on the occasion, said that Nepal had given priority to infrastructure development. “Energy, trade, technology transfer, tourism and connectivity are critical for economic development of the country. But in case of Nepal security for energy and trade is critical,” he said, warning that it will be very challenging for Nepal to get benefits from the business as usual scenario as the export from Nepal to China has been declining since the last couple of years while the import is going up significantly. “The maintenance of infrastructure projects was also equally important as their development.”
Delivering a key note speech, member of the Parliament and president of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal of Bangladesh, Hasanul Haq Inu highlighted the priorities of foreign policy of Bangladesh. He said that Bangladesh has been engaged in regional and multilateral forums like BRI, Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and these forums are important to promote regional and bilateral connectivity among the countries.

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