ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
ASEAN members expect benefit from Belt and Road Initiative
The governmental officials, representatives for non-government organizations and media insiders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) expressed their expectations for more benefit to their countries from the Belt and Road Initiative recently, ahead of the upcoming Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
The Belt and Road Initiative, first proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. It aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa through the ancient trading routes, bringing beneficial outcomes to every country it reaches.
The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is scheduled for May 14-15 in Beijing, with heads of state of 28 countries and high-level officials attending.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has confirmed he would attend the forum.
The Philippines is the rotating chair of ASEAN this year. Philippine Secretary of Finance Carlos Dominguez III said the Philippines is making efforts to improve the level of trade between ASEAN and the economies outside the bloc.
Dominguez stressed that the Belt and Road Initiative would promote trading cooperation between ASEAN and China, the second largest economy in the world.
"China is the biggest country in this region. It is the second largest economy in the world. We have to deal with the reality. It's a potentially good market for us. It's a potentially good source of products with Philippines. So there is a lot of room for the Philippines itself to coordinate and work together with China. Business is not a zero-sum game. Trade is not a zero-sum game. In trade, one side wins, and the other side also wins. So we are very open to trading with China, and we subscribed to the ideas of open trade, the idea espoused by President Xi Jinping," said Dominguez.
Experts in Myanmar said the Belt and Road Initiative would help promote globalization as well as improve infrastructure in the developing countries.
"The construction of Belt and Road promotes common development of the countries and regions involved in the initiative. China has offered great aid in technology and investment to the developing countries involved. The initiative promotes trading and economic exchange and thus enhance contact and communication among countries," said U Win Tin, a famous media worker in Myanmar.
"The Belt and Road Initiative can promote regional economic development. It facilitates transport, boost tourism and increase jobs. It will also provide a platform for cultural exchange," said U Sein Win Aung, president of the Myanmar-China Friendship Association.
China and Indonesia have pushed forward their cooperation on the construction of a high-speed railway linking Jakarta and Bandung.
In early April, the Indonesia-China joint venture company PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia-China signed an EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) project with High-Speed Railway Contract Consortium, the project's business operator and infrastructure provider. EPC projects are a common form of contractual arrangement in the construction industry.
The 142-km-long railway project, which is expected to be completed in three years, is the first of such in Indonesia as well as the first in the whole region of Southeast Asia.
"The process for the high-speed train, I think is progressing very well. The target is also that we will be finalizing the loan with the China Development Bank. We still want to finish the high-speed railway Jakarta-Bandung by the end of 2019. We are now already starting for land clearing for the first five kilometers. But after the signing of the loan, we hope that we can do a full-speed construction," said Rini Soemarno, Indonesia Minister of State Owned Enterprises.
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