The Boao Forum for Asia, which started its annual conference Sunday in south China’s Hainan Province, is of great importance for the world amid various global challenges, former President of Costa Rica Jose Maria Figueres has said.

The forum is of “particular importance” as this year marks its 20th Anniversary, Figueres said in an interview.

The past two decades are “a testament to its capacity, its leadership and the creative way in which it has managed to face and project all the political and economic efforts that throughout these years we have seen in Asia and, of course in China,” said the former President.

The participants of the forum will be able to find solutions to global problems that require coordination, said Figueres, who served as President of Costa Rica from 1994 to 1998.

This year’s annual conference “is particularly relevant because it is the first to take place after the creation of the largest free trade area in the world, and I am sure that it will be the most important on the planet,” Figueres said, referring to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Noting China is an engine of world economy, Figueres, a distinguished guest of the forum, highlighted China’s role in promoting global economic recovery amid the pandemic.

“The recent news that China’s first quarter economic growth has exceeded 18 percent (year on year) has surprised the world in a positive way,” said Figueres, adding the figure means that the dynamism and entrepreneurship of the Chinese economy are beginning to boost the global economy.

China’s growth target for 2021 is also “very good news,” which will promote “the recovery of trade and improve welfare on the planet,” he said.

The former President was also confident about the Belt & Road Initiative, which he believes is a form of peaceful and lasting cooperation between countries in search of greater well-being.

The initiative, “a breath of fresh air” for today’s world, provides an opportunity to promote dialogue and joint development, and increase collaboration to solve global challenges, Figueres said.

Editor’s note: The article reflects the author’s opinion only, and not necessarily the views of editorial opinion of Belt & Road News.