By Jean-Guy Carrier Source: China Today Published: 2018-3-19
The Belt and Road Initiative is the most important development project of the 21st Century. It will invest trillions of USD to build roads, railways, ports, airports, and telecommunications systems throughout the more than 60 countries along the Belt and Road in Africa, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Europe. This scale of investment will help lift millions of people out of poverty as it improves living standards in the countries along the routes and beyond.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is not only about development. It marks a different approach to cooperation among nations, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.
The BRI has seen macro-economic effects that were achieved in the past through new multilateral and regional agreements on trade. By reducing transportation costs, the BRI will be as important as any new international trade agreement. As tariffs have come down, transportation costs have become the binding constraint to trade. Whereas trade agreements focused on tariffs and other obstacles to trade, the BRI projects are significantly reducing the costs of transportation and border controls, and boosting "trade facilitation" measures. Coming at a time when traditional trade agreements are facing challenges, the BRI trade liberation measures are a boost for global trade and to the global economy. Moreover, they are having the effect of bringing more "emerging" and developing economies into the global economy, as full participants and beneficiaries of trade and globalization.
The author is the executive chairman of the Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce and a non-resident senior fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.