Aerial photo taken on June 8, 2018 shows fields which will benefit from a China-funded irrigation project at Pinukpuk City, the Philippines. (Xinhua/Wang Yu)
MANILA, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Countries and people around the world will stand to benefit most from the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) through cooperation, a senior Philippine finance official told Xinhua in an interview on Friday.
Assistant Secretary of the Philippine Department of Finance Antonio Lambino hailed BRI, saying the initiative is perhaps "one of the most exciting global ideas that has come around over the past four decades."
"This is a rising tide that will benefit all ships," Lambino said, adding that the initiative will make logistics costs cheaper for everybody and open markets, ideas and intercultural exchanges to all. "All of these things will flow more easily."
No wonder, he said, BRI "has captured the imagination of millions of people" around the world. "They are watching this very closely because it is an exciting idea," he added.
The BRI, proposed by China in 2013, aims at enhancing all-around connectivity through infrastructure construction, exploring new driving forces for the world economic growth, and building a new platform for world economic cooperation.
So far, some 126 countries, including the Philippines, have signed cooperation documents on BRI with China.
Lambino said the Philippines is grateful to be a part of the BRI. An archipelagic country, he said, infrastructure development is on top of the priorities of the Philippines.
Infrastructure building is indeed at full throttle in the Philippines. Accelerating infrastructure is one of the Philippine government's policy agenda to usher in the country's "Golden Age of Infrastructure" through the Build, Build, Build program, a massive infrastructure development program.
"As we build in the Philippines and as the BRI is built in the region, those two will connect and access to various markets, including China, our entrepreneurs, our large corporations, including small and medium enterprises can now take advantage of all these opportunities. This is a very good thing for the world," he added.
Lambino stressed the need to harness the benefits of BRI, saying the initiative will make the infrastructure-building program "future-proof."
"We need to future-proof all our endeavors because we owe this to the next generation. It's not just about our connectivity today, it's also connectivity for our children and the connectivity that our grandchildren will enjoy. So, being able to harness the power of knowledge and the economies that are built around knowledge is so important for the sustainability of our connectivity efforts," he said.
Indeed, he said "there is certainly a very strong resonance between the priorities" of the BRI and the Philippine Build, Build, Build program.
Now China has signed several infrastructure projects cooperation agreements with the Philippines, including the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, which will provide water to 8,700 hectares of agricultural land in the northern Philippines.
Lambino said the project will benefit 4,350 farming families and serve 21 villages in the two provinces in main Luzon island.
Moreover, the financial official said BRI offers "a great opportunity for all of the countries to become more competitive in terms of accessing the Chinese market, one of the largest markets that you can imagine."
"So being able to access a large market such as that of China is certainly a very big incentive for industry, for businesses, for entrepreneurs to really work very hard in order to produce products that the Chinese market will want to buy. So that is a positive signal as well as to industry and to entrepreneurship," Lambino said.
The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte with other leaders, including heads of state or government from a number of countries are currently attending the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.
Lambino said the Phillipines' cooperation with China on BRI will be "certainly deepening the relationship between our two countries."
As part of the confidence measure, Lambino said the Philippines makes sure that any projects under BRI that Manila brings to the table "is solid in terms of the economic internal rate of return."
"Then I think that will do justice to the relationship and make the relationship better over time," Lambino said.
"It is very hopeful signal to all involved that there are benefits to cooperation and the social investments that are coming from this cooperation are the dividends that we will enjoy as peoples working together," he added.