Officials urge for necessary reforms to maximize Lebanon's benefits from BRI

BEIRUT, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Li Jing, commercial counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Lebanon, called on Monday for greater cooperation between China and Lebanon under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

"We can further optimize the legal framework of bilateral economic and commercial cooperation, discuss possibilities of agreements on double taxation avoidance and labor cooperation, upgrade the bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement in a bid to provide legal protection for cooperation between the two countries," Li said at the FIATA RAME (International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations in the Region of Africa and Middle East) conference, which was held in Beirut for the first time.

Li's remarks came during a panel organized by Fransabank aimed at discussing the outcomes of the BRI in the past five years and ways to boost cooperation with other countries under the framework of the initiative.

Li said that the two countries should encourage communication between enterprises from both sides.

"We should organize more exchange of visits, and foster cooperation in information sharing, commercial and legal services," she said.

Li said that China is working in this direction.

"The Chinese side will continue to explore cooperation with the Lebanese side on sectors and projects especially of infrastructure and sectors related to people's livelihood in light of the political agenda and economic plan of the Lebanese government," she said.

   She also added that China has set up a special loan of 15 billion U.S. dollars to support the industrialization of Middle East countries.

   "The Lebanese are welcome to submit applications for such loans through official channels," she said.

   Meanwhile, Abdel Ghani Kabbara, advisor for Lebanese Prime Minister for northern affairs, called on Lebanese officials to maximize the benefits from the BRI by developing Lebanon's infrastructure to pave the way for true partnership that would lead to prosperity.

   Kabbara said that Lebanon, the city of Tripoli in particular, has all the components that enable it to serve as a logistic hub in the region due to its strategic location and proximity to the Mediterranean Eastern shore, Syria and other Arab cities.

   "It is much easier, for instance, to transport goods from the Mediterranean to the eastern part of the Arab world by land. If you want to go by sea to Dammam or Qatar or Dubai, it will take 10 days to two weeks by vessel, but by land, it takes two or three days maximum," he said.

   For his part, Xu Liang, deputy director general of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), called upon foreign investors, mainly the Lebanese business community, to gain a better understanding of BRI to be able to benefit from it to the fullest.

   "Lebanese investors should also communicate with Chinese companies to explore business opportunities which enable them to benefit and win," he said.