The chief executive of mining giant Fortescue urged Australian industry leaders on Monday to make the most of China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative before other companies cash in.
"Business in Australia should be looking at BRI (the Belt and Road Initiative) as a significant opportunity," Elizabeth Gaines told the Australian Newspaper on Monday.
"It is an unprecedented investment in infrastructure, led by the Chinese, but it extends to a number of emerging economies along what was the traditional Silk Route."
Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road.
As a massive exporter of iron ore to China, the Aussie miner knows the infrastructure required to develop the Belt and Road Initiative is likely to be dependent on the production of steel.
"I look at it from a commercial perspective," Gains explained.
"We look at it through the iron ore lens and the demand for steel but there are opportunities for other goods and services," she said.
"There will be opportunities from BRI - not only for infrastructure but for agriculture and food, for education and tourism and medical services."
While companies involved in the direct construction process are likely to see huge economic benefit, Gaines believes that as shipping and rail infrastructure networks improve there will also be greater opportunity for Australian businesses to increase trade with emerging economies.
"From our perspective, it is an important initiative (and) there are significant opportunities for companies to look at what is afforded through BRI," she said.
"We should be taking the opportunities available from BRI. If we don't, others will."