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BRI provides mutual benefit for Pacific region, China: Fijian minister

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SUVA, April 200 (Xinhua) -- Fiji's Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism Premila Devi Kumar said Tuesday that the Belt and Road Initiative provides an opportunity for Fiji and the Pacific region to engage with China in a way that creates mutual benefit.

Kumar made the remarks after she attended the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing earlier this month.

"We believe that Fiji can learn from the Chinese government in areas, such as setting special industrial/economic zone policies and establishing zones that attracts foreign direct investments in specialized areas," Kumar said, according to a Fijian government statement on Tuesday.

The minister pointed out that Fiji needed to capitalize on this initiative for the benefit of Fijians, as Fiji plans to attract foreign direct investment from China. This would in return create employment opportunities and improve the livelihood of all Fijians, she said.

"We are engaging with distributors in China, so that we are able to export more to China," she said.

Fiji is one of the first countries in the South Pacific region to ink with China a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. Fiji's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama attended the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in 2017.

From the Fijian government's point of view, the BRI is as an effort by the Chinese government to actively advance cooperation to build inclusiveness, mutual learning and benefits for all participating countries.

As an important nation in the South Pacific region, Fiji is located on the natural extension of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding last November will not only promote exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in various fields, but also mark a new chapter in the relations between the two countries,

The statement said that Chinese companies have since 2013 been actively participating in the construction of roads, port facilities and other infrastructure projects in Fiji. Other areas of focus have been expanding regional cooperation through trade and investment agreements, people-to-people cooperation and development of other trade and investment infrastructure.