BEIRUT, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- Lebanon will benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative, a Lebanese official said, suggesting the establishment of an arbitration center to solve legal disputes to boost business cooperation.
The Lebanese-Chinese arbitration center is an important measure to facilitate trade between the two sides under the initiative, said Rayan Kouatly, secretary general of the Lebanese Arbitration Center.
The initiative, proposed by China in 2013, refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which aim at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road.
"The Chinese economy is growing rapidly while Chinese interests are gaining importance in the Arab world and I see an important role for arbitration," Kouatly told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
Arbitration is a way to solve disputes outside the courts, particularly in the context of international commercial transactions. The dispute will be decided by one or more people who are the "arbitrators."
Kouatly explained that some Lebanese businessmen have worries of doing business with China because of little knowledge of the Chinese legal system, no acquaintance with Chinese lawyers or not being able to speak Chinese.
"The only mechanism that would ease those fears down is arbitration which is supposed to be a neutral mechanism in which both parties have faith," he said.
Kouatly said that there will be offices of the center in Beirut and Beijing where Chinese and Lebanese colleagues can create a joint arbitration panel.
The main aim of this center is to look into disputes between Chinese and Arab businessmen, he said, adding that the move will start by signing a cooperation agreement between the chambers of commerce, industry and agriculture of the two countries.
"We need to set rules to agree on arbitrators specialized in those fields, the mediators, a joint board of trustees or a board of directors, and a secretary general in Lebanon and China," he said.
But the first step is to "agree on the idea itself," he added.
Kouatly noted that the idea can also be expanded to Africa where live hundreds of successful Lebanese businessmen.
"This arbitration center would be an excellent bridge between China and Africa," he said, adding that it will cover the Middle East, China and Africa.
Kouatly added that agreements can also be signed by top Chinese and Lebanese law firms to facilitate the access to accredited and reliable lawyers in the two countries.