The Convenor’s Summary of the 2nd Meeting of the Advisory Council of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation
1. The members of the Advisory Council of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, met in Beijing on 22nd December 2019 for the 2nd Meeting of the Council. The meeting was attended by Shamshad Akhtar, Douglas Flint, Mikhail Fradkov, Justin Yifu Lin, Kishore Mahbubani, Erastus J. O. Mwencha, Mari Elka Pangestu, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Essam Sharaf, and chaired by Mr. Ma Zhaoxu, Vice Foreign Minister of China.
2. The Council appreciated the outcomes of the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (2nd BRF) in promoting high-quality Belt and Road cooperation as elaborated in President Xi Jinping’s keynote speech and the Joint Communique of the Leaders’ Roundtable of 2nd BRF. As agreed, high-quality Belt and Road cooperation is underpinned by 3 pillars, namely the principle of extensive consultation, joint efforts and shared benefits, the approach of open, green and clean cooperation, and the pursuit of high standard, people-centered and sustainable development.
3. Council members recalled that the council submitted to the 2nd BRF a report on its findings and recommendations on the development of BRF. The key recommendations were reflected in the outcomes of the Forum including enhancing the multilateral dimension of the Belt and Road cooperation; reinforcing the open world economy by promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation; improving soft connectivity alongside hard infrastructure; promoting project-based cooperation for more concrete results; strengthening industrial cooperation and promoting industrialization in Africa; expanding and leveraging diversified sources of financial support for projects; and better branding the Belt and Road cooperation.
4. Based on that, the Council, as an international advisory body, stands ready to offer more intellectual support for the implementation of the outcomes of the 2nd BRF towards high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, including but not limited to better communicating and publicizing the benefits of the BRI.
5. During the discussion at the council meeting, the Council members reached a common understanding that high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, supported by the above 3 pillars, by remaining growth-oriented, people-centered and results-based, will contribute to the well-being of the global population. In this context, the council suggests translating the political consensus arising from the 2nd BRF into more tangible and deliverable outcomes through the following:
– Building high-quality projects. As a follow-up of the Leaders’ Joint Communique of 2nd BRF, high-quality infrastructure under the BRI will meet the objectives of BRI to the fullest extent if it is viable, affordable, accessible, bankable, investible, inclusive and delivers broad based benefits over its entire life-cycle, while balancing economic growth, social progress and environmental protection, contributing to the sustainable development of participating countries. It is important to ensure economic, social, fiscal, financial and environmental sustainability of projects, drawing upon international norms, standards and best practices.
– Improving Belt and Road cooperation partners’ network. 137 countries have signed the Belt and Road cooperation documents. More partners are encouraged to join. The Belt and Road Forum is suggested to, as one of its aims, catalyze more multilateral cooperation including the development of sectoral multilateral platforms. The efforts of UN agencies with regard to these platforms including the Belt and Road International Green Development Coalition co-sponsored by United Nations Environment Program and United Nations Industry and Development Organization, are welcomed.
– Promoting global partnership on connectivity. Further alignment can be built between the BRI and the UN 2030 Agenda, as well as other regional connectivity initiatives offering synergy opportunities, including the Eurasian Economic Union, Greater Eurasian Partnership, Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, EU Strategy on Connecting Europe and Asia, and Agenda 2063 of the African Union etc. Bearing in mind the Belt and Road Dialogue for China and Africa Cooperation and the China-Caribbean Conference for Cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative held as follow-ups to the 2nd BRF, more regional dialogues on promoting connectivity through Belt and Road cooperation is strongly recommended.
– Contributing to world economic growth. The World Bank Group’s report on Belt and Road Economics suggests that, with the completion of BRI-related transport projects by overcoming the constraints, trade volume could increase by up to 9.7% for Belt and Road corridor economies and 6.2% for the whole world, real income could increase by up to 3.4% for Belt and Road corridor economies and 2.9% globally, and 7.6 million people could be lifted from extreme poverty with a further 32 million lifted from moderate poverty. Taking into account that the number of partners of BRI and the scope of their cooperation is much wider than what was covered in the above report, the overall contribution of the BRI to world economic growth could be even greater if all partners remain committed to and invest more into the Belt and Road cooperation while collectively addressing risks and challenges.
– Fostering an open world economy. Given that more connectivity means more interdependence economically, Belt and Road cooperation should be rooted in a rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, multilateral trading system with the WTO at its center. More practical cooperation amongst Belt and Road partners in trade and investment liberalization and facilitation is needed, while resisting protectionist measures.
– Further accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. There are great opportunities to synchronize UN agencies’ programs with the Belt and Road Cooperation for accelerated achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular in areas such as green development, poverty alleviation, innovation and technology, digital economy, anti-corruption and addressing the challenges of climate change.