by Salah Takieddine
BEIRUT, July 2 (Xinhua) -- Lebanese commerce chief hailed Saturday the Lebanon-China relations particularly in the trade field, calling on China for closer and wider economic ties with Lebanon.
"In an open market like Lebanon, you cannot be a businessman if you don't have access to the international market, and today you don't have a real access to the international market unless you have strong connections with China," many businessmen held the view in Lebanon today.
Mohammad Choucair, Chairman of the Beirut Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, said in an interview with Xinhua that Lebanon is the gate of the Middle East. Anything you sell in Lebanon is easily sold in the Gulf countries. He hailed the Chinese market "a mature market, and one of the world leading markets."
The prominent businessman said that "China is becoming also the major tourist provider in the world. Chinese tourists are everywhere in Europe, in America, and of course in Asia. We suppose it is for security reasons, or rather for wrong information on Lebanon."
He urged the press "to study carefully the situation and to tell people what is exactly the security situation. Maybe you will find out that Beirut and the major towns in Lebanon are the most secure places in the world."
As for the "Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road" initiative proposed by the China in 2013, Choucair viewed it as "a nice initiative that trade is accompanied by culture."
He stressed that "we understand very well the initiative since our elders the Phoenicians visited all the continents. We are proud to be part of the Silk Road as much as of the Phoenician Road, which we think should be complementary in many regions of the world."
Choucair encouraged the foreign businesses to invest in Lebanon, particularly the Chinese companies," stressing that "the major opportunities are in the oil and gas sectors."