International Forum On the Belt and Road Port Cities(5-8 Dec.2017)
Theme: Connecting Land and Sea for Inclusive Development
Think Tank + Dialogues (132)
Dialogue 2: Cooperation of Port Cities under the Belt and Road Framework
Dr. Ezzat Saad Speech
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,,,
Allow me first to express my thanks and gratitude to the organizers and sponsors of this important forum for the hospitality and the warm reception.
Within the time limit give to me, I would like to point out the following:
Geographically speaking, all of the Middle East is well centered within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). For its unique geographical position, the Middle East is sometimes referred to as “the place where the Belt joins the Road”, meaning the terrestrial and the maritime routes. The maritime section of the project, as we know, is called the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which will go past the Eastern Shores of the Arabian Peninsula before reaching the Mediterranean Sea, passing through the Red Sea and Suez Canal.
The BRI is extensively detailed within the China’s Arab policy paper, of 2016, which is the most important document assessing the relations of China with the Arab Countries. The silk and Road is mentioned twice in the document, both as legacy and prospect, and is presented as the cornerstone on which to build “Pragmatic Cooperation in the Principle of Mutual benefit and win – win results with Arab States”, and it has its own importance as the first among investment and trade cooperation projects.
China and Middle East Relations are not only based on energy but on trade as well. In fact, between 2001 and 2016, China’s trade with the Med area countries rose from around 16 Billion $ to over 191 billion $, overtaking the United States as a regional trading partner in 2010. The first countries as destinations for Chinese exports are turkey and Egypt in the Med and the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the Gulf. Thus the Maritime side of the BRI, trade flows are likely to increase in the Med. Basin through the acquisition of ports on both sides and thanks to the opportunities arising from the doubling the Suez Canal in 2015.
More important for the BRI is the rise of “the maritime economy”. In fact, some of the goals declared by the Maritime Segment of the BRI have already been achieved in the last decade thanks to not only to several acquisitions of shares in ports located in the region, but also China’s involvement in Seaport constructions in the Arab and African Countries, China has remarkable technology in this regard.
Seaports are important infrastructure, and are crucial pivots connecting a state’s national economy with the world economy. Also, seaports are the crucial pivots connecting the Marine countries with land – locked countries.