“Tajikistan attaches strategic importance to its cooperation with China. The BRI is a revival of the spirit of the ancient Silk Road,” Rahmon said in a recent interview in Beijing.

He made the remarks on the eve of his trip to Beijing to attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) slated for April 25-27.

“The BRI implies creating a new model of international cooperation by strengthening the existing mechanisms, as well as seeking and implementing new mechanisms, with the aim of stimulating the economic development of countries involved,” said Tajik leader.

“The initiative in its essence aims to improve globalisation. It is a path to free movement of goods, efficient allocation of resources and deeper market integration,” he noted.

The Tajik president said the BRI projects fit well into Tajikistan’s sustainable development plans for the period up to 2030 in sectors including energy, transport, agriculture and industry.  “By aligning our strategic goals with BRI projects, we continue to actively expand and deepen regional cooperation,” he said.

In his opinion, the cooperation with China within the BRI framework has already yielded results, but is still far from fully tapping the initiative’s full potential.

“We need to make more efforts to deepen interactions and increase the number of projects to be implemented,” he said.

The president calls the Belt and Road a multi-faceted “bridge” which can help unlock the transit potential of the landlocked Central Asian country and enable it to access worldwide markets.

Tajikistan sees the second BRF as a big event this year, said Rahmon. “We regard the upcoming forum as an important platform for constructive discussion of various aspects of the process of sustainable development,” he said.

In recent years, the Tajik government has been committed to reforms to improve the business and investment environments. Rahmon noted that Tajikistan has rich human resources, with a young and growing population, great agricultural, mining, tourist, water and hydropower resources, and a convenient geographical location close to major markets in the region.

To tap its potential, the country “is ready to actively develop and strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation with our neighbours, friends and partners, and first of all with China, including within the framework of the BRI,” he said.

The president said bilateral trade with China still has a lot of growth potential after a 10-percent increase in trade volume last year, and that Tajik businesses are keen to enter the huge Chinese market.

“We believe that the implementation of the BRI will contribute to the expansion of bilateral trade and the optimisation of its structure that meets the interests of both sides,” he said.