Malaysia must take advantage of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiatives for its own economic development, Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak said Monday.
“So as the world’s economic epicenter moves east, and it becomes clear to everyone that in the 21st century Asia’s time has truly come, we must make the most of this moment,” he told a dinner with business leaders at his official residence here.
He pointed out that his country “must certainly take advantage” of the Belt and Road Initiative, “which has the potential to create the world’s largest platform for economic cooperation.”
Proposed in 2013, the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa on and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes.
As the Belt and Road Initiative covers a significant portion of the world’s population and economy, “those are the markets that Malaysia will be able to tap into even more once connectivity is enhanced,” he said.
Among the major infrastructure projects related to the Belt and Road Initiative in Malaysia, the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), with China Communications Construction Company as the main contractor, will connect Malaysia’s industrial heartland to the less-developed east coast of Peninsula Malaysia to boost connectivity and economic growth.
Najib also mentioned Malaysia’s Digital Free Trade Zone in cooperation with China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba, saying it would benefit Malaysia’s small and medium-sized enterprises, create jobs and boost trade.