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Building a bridge to our common future

By Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-13 08:55

Journalists test equipments at the media center of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, capital of China, May 12, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing is a milestone in the development of China's Belt and Road Initiative, a historic effort to transform the economies along the two routes, strengthen links between them and better connect them to the rest of the world. The United Arab Emirates strongly supports the initiative, which will foster economic growth and security both regionally and globally.

Substantial progress has been made since President Xi Jinping announced the initiative in 2013. During this period, China has directly invested more than $50 billion and helped establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank-a new multilateral institution designed to finance vital public works in Asia's emerging economies. The UAE is a founding member of the AIIB and committed to its central mission of bringing the Belt and Road Initiative vision to life.

China's approach to economic development mirrors our own. We share the same core beliefs in the essential connection between trade, peace and prosperity. For both our peoples, these beliefs go beyond stated principles to concrete actions, best expressed by the strength of our bilateral trade, which has grown dramatically-almost 800 times, in the three decades since we established formal relations-from $63 million in 1984 to more than $50 billion in 2016.

Our cultural and economic ties with China go back centuries. But today's trade spans multiple sectors, with one of the most important being energy.

Recognizing that energy demand in the economies along the Belt and Road routes will grow by 50 percent by 2040, both China and the UAE have made strategic co-investment in this sector. China National Petroleum Corp and China Energy recently took a minority share in the UAE's onshore oil reserves, beginning a partnership with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company that will secure oil supplies for decades and ease market access for essential and higher value products throughout the region.

ADNOC's petrochemical company, Borouge, is celebrating seven years of operations in China during which the trading volume has quadrupled. Borouge is gearing up for market growth both within China and in the economies along the Belt and Road routes, where demand for petrochemicals and plastic, including essential utility piping and cable insulation, is expected to more than double by 2040.

At the pivot point between Asia, Europe and Africa, the UAE is ideally located as a logistical hub that can facilitate trade to and from the economies along the Belt and Road routes. DP World's Jebel Ali Port is the largest in the Middle East and Abu Dhabi Ports Company is one of the fastest growing. Last year, Abu Dhabi Ports Company partnered with China's shipping giant COSCO to build a new terminal at Khalifa Port that will double cargo capacity, further expanding the flow of commerce among the economies along the Belt and Road routes and the world's other major trading blocs. As many economies along the two routes look to extend their footprint in Africa, the UAE represents a natural nexus for developing mutually beneficial trading links.

The 65 economies along the two routes account for 30 percent of global GDP. By 2040, they will account for almost two-thirds, thereby becoming the world's most significant driver of economic growth. Making the right investments now will ensure this growth remains sustainable and more evenly spread.

In short, the success of the Belt and Road Initiative can provide the foundation for a more secure, prosperous and progressive future for the world.

The author is a minister of state in the United Arab Emirates and ADNOC Group CEO.

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