Collaboration on trade, energy to create basis for multipolar world, forum hears
Business exchanges among Chinese and Arab entrepreneurs are contributing not only to the development of their countries but also to the world's shared future, said speakers at a regional trade forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The 10th Arab-China Business Conference, themed "Collaborating For Prosperity", concluded on Monday with experts lauding the opportunities for cooperation between China and Arab countries.
In a speech on the second and final day of the conference, New Development Bank President Dilma Rousseff said a new and important market-like energy is fast-growing and creating the basis for a multipolar world.
Cooperation along the ancient Silk Road "has witnessed the development of two great civilizations" — Chinese and Arab, she said. Both have achieved significant global accomplishments while interacting with and inspiring each other across the Middle East and Asia.
"China and Saudi Arabia have the potential to rewrite the rules of the global energy market, leading the way in diversifying currencies and embracing new models of economic collaboration," said Rousseff, who was elected president of the Shanghai-headquartered bank in March.
The China-Saudi partnership can also inspire the Global South to expand internal and external regional trade, offering great possibilities to countries currently marginalized by the traditional international financial system, she said.
"We must deepen the movement of globalization by establishing specific regional 'great dealers', which will contribute to creating a new global economic order where developing and emerging economies have a strong and influential voice."
The emerging economies account for more than 50 percent of the global GDP in terms of purchasing power parity and will continue to grow in importance, she said. "The Arab world, as an important member of the developed world, possesses diverse resources and has achieved remarkable development, demonstrating enormous potential."
On the sidelines of the conference, Nicolas Aguzin, CEO of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd, said investors in the Middle East are diversifying their investments as the world pivots toward Asia.
"Today if we take the top 10 sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East, it is about $4 trillion of investment capital that they have available," he said. "That is going to grow close to $10 trillion by 2030."
However, a very small portion of that is invested in Asia, or 1 to 2 percent of that is in China, he added. "As it goes to $1 trillion", more than 10 percent or 20 percent will be invested in China, which means "between $1 and 2 trillion will be reallocated in investments in the country, which is massive", he said.
Barry Chan, managing director and head of Asia and Australia region of the China International Capital Corporation, said people in the Middle East "are very interested in China" and vice versa.
But more efforts are needed for them to familiarize themselves with one another, he said. And Hong Kong, an international financial center for the region, is a very good connection.
Hamdi Tabbaa, president of the Federation of Arab Businessmen, said beyond business, he believes cooperation in education between China and Arab countries can go further given their "excellent relations".
"We... are very proud to have such excellent relations with China. China is well respected in the Arab countries... not only investment-wise."