Djibouti free trade zone demonstrates true value

  Djibouti, capital of the East African state of the same name, is getting a makeover as a Chinese-built Djibouti free trade zone (FTZ), which will be the largest of its kind in Africa, paving the way for the rise of the Horn of Africa nation as a global trade hub.

  The changes being made to the tiny, yet high-profile African state by the new FTZ, part of the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative, speak compellingly for the China-proposed initiative, which is now in its fifth year.

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  The initiative is a silver lining in the clouds of trade xenophobia that shadow the global economy. The world has changed for the better thanks to tangible progress China has made over the past five years in partnership with many B&R economies. That's indisputably a wake-up call for some Western media outlets, which have been wrongly obsessed with such issues as the debt implications of the sprawling initiative for economies along the route.

  Covering 48.2 square kilometers, the Djibouti FTZ will have four industry clusters once completed, focusing on trade and logistics, export processing, business and finance as well as manufacturing and duty-free retail.

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  The East African state broke ground on the FTZ in January 2017 and officially inaugurated it in July.

  Facilities including warehouses, gates and roads totaling 70,000 square meters had been finished as of the first half, while offices and hotels are estimated to be completed in the second half, according to a report over the weekend by, the site of China Central Television. The view of a modern FTZ being built contrasts sharply with the site a year earlier, when it was a barren waste filled with volcanic rocks, said the report.

  The makeover isn't just one of geographic terminology. At the inauguration ceremony in July, Djibouti president Ismail Omar Guelleh said it is "a zone of hope for thousands of young jobseekers," Reuters reported, offering a glimpse into the zone's economic ambitions.

  There's no denying that the B&R initiative is open to constructive criticism. But with this single project providing tangible proof of the true benefits of the B&R initiative, which involves many projects in many countries and regions, it would be wiser for the "professional" faultfinders to stop judging others and make the right turn.

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