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As EU looks to Pacific, Belt and Road will enhance cooperation: Former WTO chief

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-08-03 15:05

SYDNEY - China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative will play a role in the European Union's drive to engage with the Pacific Islands, according to former head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Pascal Lamy who made the remarks at a forum in Sydney on Thursday.

Lamy was in Australia as part of a two-nation visit, having visited New Zealand last week, to discuss his belief that the European Union should more actively engage with the nations in the Pacific Ocean region.

At the event, Lamy told Xinhua that the Belt and Road Initiative would play a role in facilitating the ease of connectivity between the European Union nations and the Pacific nations, helped along by the increased development that has been pegged for the region by China, and its initiative partners.

"The Belt and Road Initiative is one signal which China is sending that cooperation is likely to grow," Lamy said.

Lamy said that he believes that the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will also assist in the development of what is currently an underdeveloped region.

"I would not be surprised if the AIIB was to develop a relationship in this region," Lamy said.

One of the key messages that Lamy, a renowned champion of free trade, wanted to emphasise was that in order for globalisation to truly be successful, it will in his eyes be dependent on a rules-based order for trade.

"The rules of free trade will remain extremely important, because trade is a question of trust, and these rules play a big role in ensuring the sort of trust we need," Lamy said.

Lamy was adamant that the value of having a "rule book" for trade will be crucial into the future, and stressed that despite larger countries often having disputes, the rules of trade and the "super-national" global environment will hopefully ensure all parties abide by the determinations of the WTO, despite recent actions in some quarters.

The learned trade leader said he believes that "geo-economics will trump geo-politics," and that the relationship between China and the United States will continue to prosper and grow.

"We now live in a planet that is so interwoven, interconnected, interdependent -- the costs of de-globalization are now so high that we should be protected from de-globalization." Lamy said.

Having studied the past, and looking to the future, Lamy said that he believes that China will continue to have a large role to play in the shaping of the world's trade environments.

"Asia will have a much bigger role in this world, and China has a much bigger role than it had 20 years ago."

Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of Silk Road.

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