A joint construction of the Belt and Road will extend cooperation space for Asia and Europe by linking the two economic circles, complementing their advantages and propelling the connectivity on the Eurasian continent, a key region for Belt and Road construction, representatives attending Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Rome Conference said on Wednesday.
The conference, organized by the BFA on Wednesday, gathered about 300 experts, policymakers and business representatives from 15 countries and regions in Europe as well as Asia Pacific.
The deputies discussed on the Belt and Road Initiative, digital economy, and sustainable economy, offering advice on how to build a new type of Asia-Europe partnership and an open world economy.
Many countries will benefit from Belt and Road Initiative that seeks common development of en-route countries, said former Italian prime minister Enrico Letta, adding that the proposal has brought enormous benefits to peoples along the route and offered new solutions to development of world economy.
“We find new fronts and models based on which we can cooperate with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other Asian countries under the Belt and Road framework. We are optimistic on the initiative,” added Letta, also Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) at Sciences Po in Paris.
The EU has been China’s largest trading partner for 14 years in a row, while China is the EU’s second biggest partner. Given the circumstance, both sides are required to find opportunities in sincere collaboration and create brighter future in mutually beneficial cooperation, in order to build an open world economy and safeguard trade facilitation and investment liberalization.
Romano Prodi, former Italian prime minister, highlighted the importance of economic globalization to global growth.
The Belt and Road Initiative is in line with the common goal of development, he said, saying that Europe should conduct closer practical cooperation with China and Asia.
Admitting that globalization indeed brought certain challenges to Europe, Prodi said some new development models and drivers are needed to address new challenges, but they should never be isolation and protectionism.
The giant Eurasian continent, home to over 4 billion people, accounts for half of global GDP and about 70 percent of international trade. Covering about 50 million square kilometers, it is the largest contiguous landmass on Earth by surface area.
The two continents, which were bound by ancient Silk Road in history, have shaped an all-round communication and cooperation with extending connotation in recent years.
Belt and Road Initiative means not only more trade chances, but also physical connection and digital connectivity, which can help improve people’s life, better deal with the unbalanced development and generate welfare for more countries and peoples, noted Surakiart Sathirathai, former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand and chairman of the Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council.
Though Asia scored remarkable economic achievements over the past 50 years, its per capita income is much lower than that in Europe. Countries from both sides, in recent years, have strengthened their cooperation by giving play to their respective advantages, laying a foundation for their promising future.
Europe and Asia, which differ in cultural backgrounds, understand and interpret globalization in a different way, but connectivity is an irresistible trend since what both sides pursue are the prosperity across the whole region, said Lorenzo Fioramonti, deputy minister of Education, University and Research of Italy.
He called on Europe and Asia to ride on the train of Belt and Road construction and share its development dividends, saying that it is of great significance for future world.
The EU can have strategic alignment with Belt and Road Initiative, as it harbors a vision to connect Europe with Asia like what the initiative advocates, said Li Baodong, secretary-general of the Boao Forum for Asia.
Europe and Asia should join efforts to intensify all-layered cooperation in technology innovation, settlement of climate change, culture and education, and strive for innovative, balanced, green, open and shared development, Li added.
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