The Belt and Road is “a great positive initiative” in the 21st century, said Evandro de Carvalho, a law professor at Brazil’s largest think-tank, the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV), and coordinator of the Brazil-China Study Center.
“The Belt and Road offers a new development opportunity for other regions including Latin America,” Carvalho told Xinhua in an interview while attending the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation that concluded Saturday. The three-day forum has drawn about 5,000 participants from more than 150 countries and 90 international organizations, including nearly 40 heads of state and government.
China is already the first or second largest trading partner of many Latin American countries, a fact that has closely linked the region with the BRI.
Data from the Institute of Latin American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences showed that trade volume between China and Brazil totaled 111.18 billion U.S. dollars in 2018. Between 2003 and 2018, Chinese investment in Brazil reached about 69.2 billion dollars, according to official statistics from Brazil.
“The greatest economic challenges in the world today include poverty eradication, reducing income inequality, and promoting sustainable and sustained growth,” said Jorge Arbache, vice president of the private sector of the Latin American Development Bank (CAF), in his speech at the forum.
“These challenges require concerted and coordinated efforts among countries, which, of course, is not a trivial task. The Belt and Road can be seen as an important initiative in this direction,” said Arbache.
He said the BRI creates new opportunities for many countries in the areas of infrastructure investment and foreign trade, and thus contributes to poverty alleviation.
“The Chinese initiative focuses on infrastructure and financial integration through construction at sea and on land, like railways, roads and telecommunication infrastructure,” Arbache said.
Hsia Hua Sheng, a professor at FGV EAESP, told Xinhua that many infrastructure projects planned by the Brazilian government are geared toward the export of agricultural products, which align well with the BRI.
“The investment in infrastructure will help the export of Brazilian agricultural products and promote local economic growth. At the same time, the improvement in infrastructure will also reduce transaction cost for Brazil’s foreign trade, which will certainly be favorable to both Brazil and China in the long run,” Hsia said.
According to Hsia, the BRI will not only benefit Latin America but also facilitate exchanges and development around the world. “But if the initiative is to last longer, other countries need to increase investment instead of relying on Chinese funds.”
“The Belt and Road initiative should count on the collaboration of all participating countries to promote related projects in a sustainable way,” he added.