GUANGZHOU, China, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative can dovetail with Australia's strategy to develop its northern region in a way which benefits both countries, a former Australian trade minister said here Wednesday.
"The Belt and Road Initiative has played a significant role in helping Australia to develop her northern region," Andrew Bobb said in an interview with Chinese reporters on the sidelines of the 2017 Fortune Global Forum.
Citing a trade deal sealed in 2015 on China's importation of live cattle from Australia as an example, Bobb noted that the agreement has brought a business boom to the farming sector in Australia.
In particular, while meeting the demands of the Chinese market for high-quality beef, the deal has generated revenue for Australian live cattle exporters, most of whom come from the northern Australian region, he added.
The Belt and Road Initiative, put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, seeks to build a trade, investment and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.
During Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Australia in March, the two sides agreed to synergize the Belt and Road Initiative with Canberra's Vision for developing North Australia.
So far, dozens of countries and international organizations have signed cooperation agreements with China within the framework of this initiative, which is aimed at promoting win-win cooperation, people-to-people exchange and common development.
China has been Australia's largest trading partner for the past eight years. In 2015, the two countries inked a free trade agreement known as ChAFTA. Last year, bilateral trade reached 107.8 billion U.S. dollars, with China seeing a deficit of more than 30 billion dollars.
Speaking of the trade imbalance, the former trade minister, a strong supporter of and contributor to ChAFTA, said, "They will all balance up in the end if you look at a larger picture."
In addition, Bobb spoke highly of China's efforts in poverty reduction. Official statistics show that China has lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty since the start of its reform and opening-up drive in 1978.
It is "a humanitarian miracle the world has never seen," he said.
Meanwhile, he lauded the influence China's opening-up has brought to the world, saying that "the rest of the world marvelled at the impact China secured through opening up its economy."
Now China is taking a leading position in the digital economy, which is playing an increasingly important part in driving global development into the new era, he said.
"China is now ahead of many countries in the digital economy and a number of innovative industries in a world of fierce competition," he said. "It has jumped a generation to lead in many sectors."