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Summary: Boao Forum for Asia Paris Meeting Highlights the “Belt and Road” Initiative: Building Synergy with European Policies and Strategies

Time:2017-09-20 13:17:09    Views:701370    Origin:Boao Forum for Asia

On September 14th and 15th, 2017, Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) and Foundation Prospective and Innovation of France co-hosted a special meeting themed on “‘Belt and Road’ Initiative: Building Synergy with European Policies and Strategies” to study how to dovetail with Junker plan and other development plans of various countries. It is believed at the conference that under the “Belt and Road” Initiative, Asia and Europe can carry out in-depth cooperation in fields such as infrastructure, connectivity, trade and investment systemic arrangement, and industrial innovation and so on, give full play to their respective potentials in trade and investment and promote the in-depth integration between Asia and Europe and achieve economic prosperity across the board.

This is the second time that BFA has held a meeting in Paris since it held International Capital Conference in Paris in November 2011. Besides the opening ceremony and welcome dinner, there will be three sessions including “Infrastructure Connectivity”, “Promoting Trade and Investment” and “Inclusive and Innovative Ways of Funding” and a CEO dialogue “ ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative: The Role of the Market and Business”.

More than 300 representatives from 19 countries and regions including China, France, Germany and Britain attended the meeting. Present at the meeting were ZENG Peiyan, former Vice-Premier of the State Council of China and Vice-Chairman of Boao Forum for Asia; Gérard LARCHER, President of the Senate of France; Jean-Pierre RAFFARIN, French Senator of Vienne, former Prime Minister of France, Chairman of Foundation Prospective & Innovation of France and BFA Board Member; Shaukat AZIZ, former Prime Minister of Pakistan and BFA Board Member; ZHOU Wenzhong, Secretary-General of Boao Forum for Asia; ZHAI Jun, Chinese Ambassador to France; Jean-BAPTISTE LEMOYNE, Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France; Victor FUNG, Honorary Chairman of Li & Fung Limited and Group Chairman of Fung Group and Board Member of Boao Forum for Asia; TU Guangshao, President of China Investment Corporation (CIC); ZHANG Xiaoqiang, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE) and former Deputy Director of the National Development and Reform Commission of China; ZHAO Jinjun, Deputy Director of China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE) and former Chinese Ambassador to France and Sok SIPHANA, Advisor to the Royal Government of Cambodia.

At the opening ceremony, ZENG Peiyan delivered a keynote speech themed on “Create a New Era of Common Development of Asia and Europe in Pursuing the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative”. He pointed out that the Belt and Road Initiative has been put forward by Chinese President XI Jinping against the background of coping with the post-crisis situation and for the purpose of seeking new growth drivers of world economy, realizing balanced development for universal benefits and bridging the wealth gap. The core principle is “extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits” as proposed by President XI Jinping. Every country is an equal participant, contributor as well as beneficiary. The Belt and Road is open and inclusive and welcomes the participation of various global economies. ZENG Peiyan addressed foreign friends' concerns about certain specific questions in pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative, such as its purposes, the investment returns, environmental protection and exports of production capacity. He said that the pursuit of the “Belt and Road” Initiative must rely on market-based operation and major players of investment are enterprises of various types. The Initiative is aimed at developing advanced production capacity while respecting the standards and requirements for sustainable development and environmental protection. The “Belt and Road” Initiative will drive the development of underdeveloped regions on the Eurasian Continent and promote harmony and stability in the region.

Gérard LARCHER pointed out that the “Belt and Road” Initiative exerts enormous influence. No plan in the history can be its parallel. The “Belt and Road” Initiative requires the joint efforts of both EU and China. Equality, cooperation, win-win situation, clear investment conditions, open market, and advanced production processes are preconditions for the success of the “Belt and Road” Initiative. He hopes that on the basis of Sino-French cultural exchanges, the two countries can strive to make more contributions in this regard.

Jean-Pierre RAFFARIN noted that the French President Macron mentioned on many occasions that the “Belt and Road” is a great and exemplary geopolitical initiative led by China. He called for Europeans to consider this with the interests of Europe in mind. France attaches importance to and is actively participating in the “Belt and Road” Initiative. So is Europe. Recently, European Investment Fund and China Silk Road Fund signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Promoting Joint Investment. According to the memorandum, The Silk Road Fund and the European Investment Fund will set up a China-EU joint investment fund, with the scale of cooperation reaching 500 million euros in the initial phase, to promote the coordination between the “Belt and Road" initiative and the European investment plans and support the coordination and cooperation between China and the small and medium-sized enterprises from Europe and the Belt and Road countries. This is something to celebrate.

Jean-BAPTISTE LEMOYNE pointed out that the cooperation among countries along the ancient Silk Road on the “Belt and Road” Initiative is a strategy of historic significance. The principle of “extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits” embedded in the plan will usher in a new era for common development. France greatly supports the initiative because it not only strengthens the exchanges among various European countries but also consolidates the friendly and cooperative relationship between China and France. France should join hands with other European partners in Euro-Asian infrastructure construction to promote openness, stability and prosperity in Asia and Europe. 

ZHOU Wenzhong noted that the Asian-European cooperation in the fields of trade, investment and finance is growing. If the above-mentioned cooperation can be incorporated into a multi-lateral framework or mega initiative, it will definitely promote the free flow of goods, services, capital and personnel between Asia and Europe. The “Belt and Road” Initiative provides important opportunities for achieving this goal and covers most of the countries in Asia and Europe.

ZHAI Jun noted that Mr. Deng Xiaoping once said that “Europe and Asia are in fact one continent. You are in the west, and we are in the east. There are far more things that connect us than we could ever imagine”. The Belt and Road is a road to peace and prosperity and open to all parties. It will be built through consultations to meet the interests of all. It is important for Asian and European countries to strengthen strategic coordination, bring into full play their respective comparative advantages and enhance cooperation in the fields of infrastructure, trade and investment, financial services and so on. These strategies and moves will not only create new development opportunities for enterprises from both sides, but also make them benefit from the overall development of the Eurasian Continent. Since ancient time, France has been one of the Silk Road’s western destinations. Today, as a major country of EU and China's comprehensive strategic partner, France should play an important role in the Belt and Road Initiative.

At the Session “Infrastructure Connectivity”, delegates believed that infrastructure is of paramount significance for the recovery of global economy. Both developed and developing nations are focusing on their infrastructure. Under the principle of “extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits”, the “Belt and Road” Initiative will facilitate the infrastructure construction in the Belt and Road countries and promote connectivity between Asia and Europe. In the future, a “Belt and Road” coordination and cooperation mechanism should be set up to strengthen policy coordination and achieve connectivity between Asia and Europe.

At the Session “Promoting Trade and Investment”, delegates believed that the “Belt and Road” Initiative plays an important role in promoting trade and investment facilitation in Asia and Europe. Great support should be given to the establishment of a multilateral trade system. It is advised that a global investment promotion system should be established by referring to WTO to boost global liquidity. In addition, more and more attention and support have been given to SMEs' active participation in cross-border trade and investment activities. Attention should also be paid to the application of new technologies and the development of e-commerce.

At the Session “Inclusive and Innovative Ways of Funding”, delegates believed that globally and along the Belt and Road route infrastructure is lacking in capital and government financing alone is not sufficient. The potentials of the private sector should be fully tapped. The European market should grasp the opportunities brought by the “Belt and Road” Initiative. RMB internationalization is of vital importance for the “Belt and Road” Initiative. The local currencies should play an important role in this regard and a regional financial center should be established. The essence of Fintech is finance per se and the nature of financial crisis remains the same. Attention should be paid to risk management.

The CEO dialogue, themed on “‘Belt and Road’ Initiative: The Role of the Market and Business”, was a closed door meeting and was co-hosted by RAFFARIN and ZHAO Jinjun. Twenty seven Chinese and foreign delegates exchanged their views on issues related to infrastructure connectivity, China-Europe energy cooperation, mutual investment and financial science and technology.

On 15th, the French President Macron met with Chinese delegates of the Meeting. He remarked that the “Belt ad Road” Initiative is a major initiative of China and is of political, economic and cultural significance and that it will build a bridge for the development of Eurasian Continent. Currently, the international situation is still facing many uncertainties and challenges. The “Belt ad Road” Initiative provides a great development opportunity for various countries and a good way to address imbalance and instability. France is willing to work with China to actively engage in the “Belt ad Road” construction so as to promote the prosperity, stability and development of Eurasian Continent and Africa in compliance with relevant rules and standards.

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