The Iberian Peninsula could become a “bridge” for the Belt and Road strategy to reach Africa and Latin America, with a “critical point” in the Portuguese port of Sines, south of Lisbon, according to a new study that was recently released.
The second volume of “The New Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge: A Shared Future for Mankind,” launched in July this year by the Schiller Institute, details 20 of the “most pressing development projects on the agenda for the coming decades” including the extension of the Iberian Peninsula Sea Route to Africa and the Ibero-American and Caribbean nations.
The statement said that at the Silk Road summit in Beijing in May 2017, China’s President Xi Jinping suggested to the former Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that Spain should serve as “a kind of bridge for the initiative to Africa and the Ibero-American nations. “
“Not only Spain, but also Portugal, have eagerly embraced Xi’s proposal and in the last year have been actively working on specific proposals and projects to make this prospect a reality,” said the report from the institute led by Helga and Lyndon LaRouche .
“The Iberian Peninsula is, in fact, the natural geographical interface of the economic belt of the Silk Road, which now extends from the Pacific to the Atlantic through the landmass of Eurasia, with the Maritime Silk Route, which will extend to the West, across the Atlantic, to Ibero-America, the Caribbean and the United States, as well as south towards Africa,” it said.
Two “critical points” for this interface will be the Spanish port of Algeciras, the most active on the Mediterranean Sea, and the Portuguese port of Sines, facing the Atlantic.
The new study, which updates the first one from 2014, details some of the projects planned by the two Iberian countries with a view to “full integration” with the Belt and Road strategy, such as “high technology industrial corridors” and new high speed railway lines.
The authors point out that Portugal “has now finally won its multi-year battle for recognition that it must also be linked to the economic corridors of the New Silk Road on land.”
The Portuguese government has expressed its willingness to contribute to the Chinese initiative through the Atlantic link of the Belt and Road, via the port of Sines, potentially with an extension of the Chongqing-Madrid railway line.
Another identified project, which is in the feasibility study phase, is the connection of Portugal’s electricity grid to that of Morocco and North Africa through a submarine cable.
In November last year, a group of Portuguese and Chinese public enterprises (Infraestruturas de Portugal, China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group/China Railway Engineering Group) signed a memorandum of understanding for a joint partnership in the construction of road and rail projects in the Portuguese-speaking African countries, with the possibility of also including Brazil. (macauhub)