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Opinion: Free Trade a Hidden Key to ‘Belt and Road’ Success

By Bala Ramasamy and Matthew Yeung
Reducing trade barriers, a principal objective of the Belt and Road initiative, is important, especially given the limited success that international organizations have had in promoting economic growth in developing countries. Above, a freight train carrying high-quality cotton yarn from Central Asia arrives in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, on Feb. 24. Photo: Visual China
Reducing trade barriers, a principal objective of the Belt and Road initiative, is important, especially given the limited success that international organizations have had in promoting economic growth in developing countries. Above, a freight train carrying high-quality cotton yarn from Central Asia arrives in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, on Feb. 24. Photo: Visual China

Most discussions about China’s massive “Belt and Road” initiative tend to focus on infrastructure projects for connecting an economically vibrant East Asia and developed Europe by land and sea, and in the process encouraging growth and economic development in dozens of countries along the modern Silk Road routes. Our research has shown, however, that equally important are efforts to improve the soft-power infrastructure needed to ensure that trading across the various corridors operates seamlessly.

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