The participation of Ambassador Dr. Ezzat Saad in the work of the Third Forum of the Silk Road “Economic Belt and Practical Cooperation”
In the period of (11th-12th) of July 2017, Ambassador Dr. Ezzat Saad, Executive Director of the Council participated in the work of the Third Forum of the Silk Road Tianshan, around the Silk Road “economic belt and practical cooperation”. His interference went as follows:
To start, I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to the organizers and sponsors of the forum for the hospitality and reception. I believe that the topics we will discuss today and tomorrow reflect the common desire to achieve common development, prosperity and regional and cross-border integration in order to enhance communication between them; As defined by the high-level initiative proposed by His Excellency President Xi Jinping. Analyzing the impact of the Middle East ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ is useful for understanding the real purpose of this great project, given its geographical location. Although many Middle Eastern countries will not be covered by the major infrastructure projects envisaged by the initiative; The region compensates for this and becomes more feasible and beneficial in the context of the growing Sino-Arab relations in recent decades.
According to the main document issued by the National Development and Reform Commission (China) under the title “Vision and Procedures in the framework of the joint construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Silk Road of the 21st Century”, our region is involved in both land and sea routes. The first, officially called the Silk Road Economic Belt, is not a single route, but a combination of six corridors stretching from Southeast Asia to northern Europe.
The Middle East is the last part of the so-called economic corridor between China, Central Asia and Western Asia, which extends from this beautiful province, Xinjiang, through Central Asia to Iran and Turkey.
According to the policy paper on the Arab region and China (presented by the Chinese president in January 2016 during a speech before the League of Arab States), the Silk Road offers the cornerstone on which practical cooperation can be built on mutual benefit and win-win results for China and Arab countries, The first is between investment and trade cooperation projects.
The initiative represents an investment opportunity not only to enhance cooperation in the field of infrastructure, in addition to a wide range of projects, especially the energy sector, trade, green cities, local exchanges, etc. The initiative provides the Middle East countries with the opportunity to become financial centers for the internationalization of the ‘yuan’.
While Arab countries provide nearly half of China’s crude oil imports, China is the main trading partner of more than 10 countries in the Middle East, with more than US $200 billion worth of trade deals. President Jin Ping highlighted the development of infrastructure and investment facilitation as key areas of focus and priority of renewable energy cooperation to help promote Sino-Arab relations.
In addition to fruitful political dialogue, China has entered into a strategic partnership with eight countries and signed various agreements with six other countries and committed themselves to cooperate within the framework of the initiative. China’s cooperation in the Middle East has recently been fruitful: eight countries in the Middle East are members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which is the main financial institution for infrastructure projects for countries along the Silk Road. Moreover, the construction of the China-Pakistan economic corridor and the Gwadar-Chia oil pipeline will bring oil from the Gulf to China very quickly, reducing the shipping time from 16 weeks to only two weeks. We are already seeing evidence of a long-term strategic vision to enhance energy cooperation.
The MENA region is one of the largest markets for China’s trade, and vice versa. In the case of Egypt, Connectivity is an integrated goal: Albrex complies with the Egyptian vision and will help to achieve a critical commercial and financial trading network that will culminate in the creation of a tangible trading system linking Europe, Africa and Asia. In this regard, strengthening the link between the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and Europe will benefit the common development of the parties concerned.
It is important to note that this linkage will benefit not only China but also all countries within the framework of the Initiative. This crucial and strategic initiative can integrate other initiatives and sub regional organizations within it, including the Eurasian Economic Community, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, to enhance the economic returns of the Middle East and to promote the universality of this development network.
In addition, the Middle East is one of the regions where young people represent a large proportion of the total population, looking for new horizons and looking for a great investment opportunity in manufacturing, and the region is seeking further industrialization and development. In addition, North Africa and West Asia are keen to promote industrial cooperation; therefore, China’s extensive technologies and expertise will be of value to development as defined by the new industrial revolution and will help enable small companies to maintain regional growth.
There is also broad scope for strengthening financial linkages and cooperation in various areas and there is a need to establish a stable and sustainable inter-regional financial system to mobilize public and private funding for investment in the Institute. This will be a means of securing funds to help realize the vision of the Initiative.
Indeed, a large number of countries under the Belt and Road Initiative, particularly Egypt and Kazakhstan, have competed as bilateral exchange agreements with China, which will undoubtedly increase investment and boost trade.
The development of roads, ports, railways and airports is essential to the success of this initiative. Unlike initiatives that lack a clear road map, the new Silk Road – with the assistance of the Chinese government – has provided the required funding and financial instruments to ensure it.
The Silk Road Fund, with $40 billion and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank with a capital of $100 billion to ensure the implementation of the project, as well as other financial institutions, including the New Bank for Development of the Brix Group, the World Bank and the Chinese Financial Institutions. (ICBC, CDB, CADFund).
However, there is still a funding gap. The ADB estimates that the infrastructure gap in Asia needs about $ 8 trillion over the next 10 years, which means the need to mobilize more public and private funds from different sources. At the First International Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing on May 14, President Xi Jinping gave financial support to the initiative by contributing an additional 100 billion yuan to the Silk Road Fund.In partnership with other financial institutions, the investment fund of the initiative has been increased to 300 billion yuan and the private lending system of the CBD and the China EXIM Bank has increased by 250 billion and 130 million yuan respectively. Therefore, the allocation of funding helps bridge the financial gap in this regard and will be a major step towards the realization of the initiative. In addition to the commitments of President Xi, announced at the Aley Forum, China has allocated 60 billion Chinese yuan to assist developing countries and participating organizations, as well as the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, which will undoubtedly play a major role in the enhanced cooperation on innovation. In the end, I believe that the Silk Road Initiative has the potential to overcome the potential for increased connectivity between three major continents, as it provides a lesson in global integration.
It will expand regional development in industries and services to bring about a new revolution in manufacturing and services, helping to achieve development and prosperity in the Middle East