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China's Belt and Road Initiatives to be growth driver for Europe

2014-12-24 09:24 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping

Italian experts say China's initiatives of building a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is an extraordinary driver of development for China and Europe.

"The project is very ambitious and definitely destined to succeed," Cristiana Barbatelli, founder and CEO of Pas Advisors, an international consultancy company based in Shanghai, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Firstly the project, she explained, will serve as a driver of China's development especially in those areas which have not fully benefited from the country's fast economic growth, such as Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

"In the new geographic map, Xinjiang will become a key player for China's exchanges with Europe," she said.

Secondly, the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will open new train and ship routes for increasing flows of goods, information, tourists, students, businesses, technologies and scientific knowledge between China and many other countries, Barbatelli added.

In particular, the Belt and Road Initiatives' impact on European countries will be "extraordinary," she said, especially considered the current times of economic difficulties.

"Some 30 years ago, it took an incredibly long time to travel from Europe to China. And at present, you still need to fly across different non-connected nations and barriers to have relations with China. Just think that in a few years you will take only seven days to reach China by train and you can understand the importance of this project," Barbatelli pointed out.

"This means that a container full of steel from Germany, for example, or of machinery from Italy could travel by train from one side to the other side of the planet some 10 times faster than now," Barbatelli noted.

In fact, the two initiatives will "change the perspective of the world," she said.

In particular, Barbatelli noted, for the Italian industrial system, whose strength lies in rapid transport systems, robotic automation and shipbuilding, the two initiatives will offer great business opportunities.

Paolo Borzatta, director and senior partner of the European House-Ambrosetti think tank, told Xinhua "We have estimated that the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will create investments worth several trillion U.S. dollars in the involved 21 countries over the next 10 years."

Earlier this month, the think tank co-hosted the Qianhai Conference 2014 in the newly established district of Shenzhen city, in southern China. The conference, a round table discussion among peers from the Asian and European public and private financial world, especially focused on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road as a driver of common growth.

The Belt and Road Initiatives, Borzatta said echoing Barbatelli's words, highlight China's "strategic vision" and are of enormous importance for China, the other countries involved in the project and also the rest of the world.

Both initiatives recall a positive historical memory of economic and cultural integration among nations, the ancient Silk Road connecting the West and the East, Borzatta said.

But in his view, China needs to "massively invest in communication" in order to make the project known to the majority of small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe, which would enormously benefits in terms of growth and jobs from the initiatives, but might be not fully aware of their size.

"Media reports are not effective enough to describe the huge numbers and figures supporting both the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road," Borzatta stressed.

He called for more communication action from Chinese authorities on European business groups to raise awareness and "avoid that Europe misses this fundamental road for development."

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