by Valentina Bastias and Cristobal Chavez
SANTIAGO, April 7 (Xinhua) -- China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is helping expand Latin America's connectivity with "deep insight," according to a senior United Nations official here.
Alicia Barcena, executive secretary of the Chile-based United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), shared with Xinhua her views about the global development scheme and its positive impact on Latin American countries.
By promoting the initiative in Latin America, which is fairly far away from Beijing, China is showing its willingness to support growth in this region and other areas beyond its own continent, she said.
Calling Latin American and Caribbean countries "China's most distant partners," Barcena noted that "we are not connected the way Europe or the rest of Asia is, where there is overland connectivity."
Yet China has shown it favors not only improving its connectivity with countries overseas, but also improving the connectivity in other regions and subregions, in a bid to promote global trade and exchanges in other areas, Barcena said.
With that in mind, the upcoming Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, scheduled to take place later this month in Beijing, presents a key opportunity to upgrade roadways and revamp rail transport in Latin America, Barcena said.
ECLAC, she said, sees China as a leader in technological development, something the agency considers "very important" for Latin America and a learning opportunity.
Today, for example, it is vital for countries in the region to expand their access to high-speed broadband connectivity, said Barcena.
"We have proposed a unique digital market for Latin America and the Caribbean. This initiative (BRI), which ECLAC has been encouraging, studying and providing technical material for, could be of great help in generating Chinese investment and joint ventures in our region," Barcena said.
ECLAC plans to attend this year's second BRI forum. "We need to understand how the rules of the game play out here and over there, how state-run or privately-owned Chinese companies operate, and how we do business in Latin America," Barcena said.
Within the framework of the initiative, Latin America's priorities are to develop digital connectivity and infrastructure for internal and external communication through highways, ports, rail lines and other means of transport, she said.
Learning how China uses and applies technology can be of great benefit to the region, especially what links intraregional trade in the Asia-Pacific, she said.