Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday threw his weight behind China’s ambitious plan to invest trillions of dollars to expand its trade routes, saying it would greatly benefit Asean nations that did not have the resources for infrastructure expansion.
Opening the World Economic Forum on Asean, Mr Hun Sen spoke of his admiration for China’s Belt and Road, Silk Route and Maritime Silk Road 21 initiatives.
“When the global economic crisis hit in 2008, only the Chinese and Indian economies proved to be resilient,” he said.
Mr Hun Sen said if the Chinese economy had failed at the time, it would have been catastrophic for the world.
“China not only handled their economy well, but also helped Asean as well as Europe to save their economies. The Chinese are not only an important engine for global growth but also for the region.”
Mr Hun Sen said Asean benefitted a lot in terms of the strategic partnership with China because of the trade surplus it enjoys with the country.
“Exports from Asean to China were greater than exports from China to Asean.”
Mark Rathbone, PwC’s Asia-Pacific capital projects and infrastructure leader, said that China’s Belt and Road initiative promoted a vision of expanding links between Asia, Africa and Europe that would also greatly benefit Asean.
It would, he said, provide large capital for infrastructure development in the region.
“According to a PwC report, between now and 2025 about $70 trillion is needed to be invested in infrastructure in the region,” he said.
China has earmarked $40 billion in infrastructure investment in the Belt and Road initiative, on top of the $100 billion capitalisation for the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
David Wijeratne, growth markets centre leader of PwC, said the Belt and Road initiative has already seen many success stories of partnerships.
“There are mutual benefits, which reaffirms that there are commercial opportunities across the infrastructure value chain,” he said.
During the Belt and Road initiative forum next week, more than 50 memorandums of understanding, plans, cooperation letters and cooperation projects in transportation, energy and communications will be signed, Chinese government officials told Reuters.
“This will be a jointly consultative document by all parties to reflect their shared consensus on advancing the Belt and Road,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Wednesday, referring to the summit communique.
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