The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is of great significance and plays a special role in guiding China-Italy cooperation.
In March 2019, in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, China and Italy signed a memorandum of understanding on jointly building the Belt and Road, which attracted widespread attention and had a far-reaching impact.
This year the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused global economic and social disruption in all countries, has created the most severe situation since World War II. It is more important than ever for all parties to strengthen multilateral cooperation, and it is more urgent and practical than ever to push forward the BRI.
China has always held high the banner of extensive consultation, joint contributions and shared benefits, and advocates for openness, inclusiveness and green development. This is in sharp contrast to some unilateral and negative practices such as building walls and withdrawing from international organizations and agreements. The BRI aims to complement and integrate the development plans of all parties involved, which will help them pool positive energy and deepen practical cooperation. Cooperation between countries along the Belt and Road has yielded remarkable progress and shown good prospects. Once COVID-19 is basically under control, accelerating economic recovery and defeating the virus completely will be most demanding challenges for all parties. The BRI can certainly play an important role in this regard.
First of all, we should make good use of various platforms to facilitate the docking of plans and smooth economic and trade interactions. The IMF predicts the global economy will contract 6.5 percent by 2020, while the WTO expects global trade volumes to decline by 13-32 percent. Many policies and measures have been put in place to try to escape this recession. Improved coordination on policies and measures will help generate a multiplier effect, stabilize employment, create mutual benefits and allow us to embrace win-win results. China and Italy will continue to deepen cooperation under the BRI framework in accordance with the consensus reached by leaders of the two countries, so as to promote recovery, aid people's livelihoods and seek win-win results.
China will strengthen policy coordination, promote trade and investment, expand market access, maintain industrial and supply chains, actively develop Silk Road e-commerce, and explore new growth areas for agricultural products.
We should also make good use of the existing mechanisms for economic and trade growth, encourage more outstanding and distinctive Italian enterprises to participate in the third China International Import Expo (CIIE) and, in particular, help small and medium-sized Italian enterprises explore the Chinese market and share dividends.
China will also organize the high-level online Belt and Road conference with countries along the route at an appropriate time, so as to create more new growth points for countries' economic development and inject new impetus into the global economic recovery.
We will also deepen public health cooperation and build a Health Silk Road. The spread and destruction of COVID-19 once again remind all parties that no one is immune to the challenges of public health security. In the international cooperation against the outbreak, China has actively contributed its efforts, worked closely with other parties, supported the WHO in playing a coordinating role, and demonstrated the responsibility of a major country.
Three years ago, President Xi proposed welcoming the participation of the WHO and others in building the Health Silk Road, devising new ideas to improve global public health governance. During the pandemic, building a Health Silk Road has become more relevant and is targeted at improving public health security governance. China will do its best to work with other countries to further medical and health cooperation, strengthen public health policy coordination, share experience and information, expand communication among medical enterprises, and jointly accelerate the research and development of telemedicine and specific drugs. Italy has its own characteristics and advantages in the field of public health, and China and Italy can fully contribute to the establishment of the Health Silk Road through expanded exchanges and cooperation.
The COVID-19 pandemic once again demonstrates that mankind is interdependent in a community with a shared future. In the fight against the virus, China and Italy have helped one another in times of adversity. In the course of building the Belt and Road, we are witnessing an early harvest in various forms and feeling the expectations of all parties. The two countries can do more and reap more rewards by increasing consultations, collaboration and project docking.