Distinguished Mr. Abdullah Saleh, Undersecretary of Ministry of Economy,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very delighted to join elites from the economic and business circle of the UAE for our long-term friendly cooperation. The Silk Road has long been a road through which economic and business exchanges were conducted, different civilizations learned from each other and win-win cooperation was in full swing. Ancient Chinese and Arabic civilizations transcended the Silk Road into common development. Against the backdrop of the new international political and economic structure with both opportunities and challenges, it is of great significance for China and the UAE, two countries striving for development, to rejuvenate the Silk Road on both land and sea for regional economic growth and cultural progress.
In Autum 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched the great initiative of building the Belt and Road, which was echoed positively by the international community, adjoining countries in particular. Also, this Initiative coincides with the idea of rejuvenating the Silk Road by Sheikh Mohammed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. The UAE is an important regional hub and financial and trade center as well as an important regional partner of China in building the Belt and Road. The efforts made by China and the UAE to enhance policy exchanges, trade, infrastructure and currency connectivity under the framework of the Belt and Road have far-reaching bearings on the strategic partnership between the two countries. It is encouraging that the two countries have made solid steps in this regard with fruitful achievements.
First, there has been deepening political mutual trust with more frequent high level visits, allowing for closer and smoother inter-governmental policy communications. The two countries share similar positions on major international and regional issues and provide strong support on issues regarding the fundamental interests of each other.
Second, bilateral trade and mutual investment has been hitting new highs. For many years in a row, the UAE has been China's second largest trading partner and biggest export market in the Middle East and North African Region. Bilateral trade volume stood at 54.8 billion USD last year. At a time when global trade remained sluggish, bilateral trade went on in a steady maaner and mutual investment was increasingly active.
Third, connectivity has been developing quickly. There have been more than 150 flights each week between the two countries. Meanwhile, Chinese enterprises are taking an active part in airport, port, road, telecommunications and railway construction in the UAE, making contributions to the improvement of the infrastructure in the UAE and regional connectivity.
Fourth, financial cooperation has been deepening in a steady manner. Central Banks of the two countries are now discussing the renewal of currency swap agreement and the establishment of a RMB clearing center in the UAE. The four largest banks of China have all set up branches in the UAE, providing a strong impetus to enterprises of the two countries. As a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the UAE has made positive efforts for its operation at an early date.
Fifth, people-to-people contacts have been increasingly active. There have been frequent people-to-people exchanges in culture, education, youth, media and tourism. Thanks to the Beijing International Book Fair and Dubai Week in Beijing, the UAE has been very much popular among the Chinese and Chinese tourists to the UAE are expected to be on continual rise.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Many friends from the UAE have been watching closely China's recent economic performance and asking me many questions in this regard. I feel I have the need to emphasize to you and through you, to all those caring for China-UAE cooperation that the trend of China's economic development is increasingly stable with better performance. China's economic growth is still within a reasonable and stable range. Also, as the new style industrialization, informationization, urbanization and agricultural modernization is pressing ahead and the bonus of structural reform is released, the potentials of China's economic development will be fully tapped. I am confident that China's economy will maintain a medium and high growth rate with better quality.
As an ancient Chinese saying goes, many hands make light. The wisdom and efforts of all circles of the two countries, as well as the actively participation of the two peoples, is needed for them to build the Belt and Road together. I sincerely hope that all those present and other entrepreneurs will pool your efforts together, blaze new trails and make greater progress in bilateral cooperation and building the Belt and Road. That is also the main purpose of today's Workshop.
It is our honor to have with us Mr. Ren Hongbin, Executive Deputy President of the International Trade and Economic Cooperation Research Institute of the Ministry of Commerce. Mr. Ren will brief us on the background and significance of the Initiative of the Belt and Road and share with us the way and future of China building the Belt and Road with other countries. Mr. Ren has long been working on trade and economic cooperation between China and other countries and has deep insight into China's economy, trade and foreign investment. There is no doubt that his presentation will enlighten us and I hope that all others will also take an active part in discussions.
I wish this Workshop a success and many thanks.