The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is significant and the Iraqi government should try to benefit from the project, an Iraqi researcher has said.

Hayder Qasim al-Tameemi, a Professor at the Research Department of the Iraqi House of Wisdom think tank, said in a recent interview that “the Silk Road with its historical significance was a corridor to pass ideas of peoples between the West and the East.”

In al-Tameemi’s opinion, the BRI creates social harmony among the nations, and it has a greater significance than just economic benefits.

Proposed by China in 2013, the BRI refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Iraq plays an important historical role in the Silk Road considering its brilliant civilisation and economic weight, according to al-Tameemi.

If Iraq wants to seize the opportunity, “it could be a chance for Iraq and its economic policy to give up nearly complete reliance on the revenues of oil exports,” al-Tameemi added.

Iraq’s active participation in the BRI could be a start to expand and diversify the country’s economy, said al-Tameemi, adding that this project is not only about the transport of goods, but also about cultural exchanges and promoting the tourism industry in Iraq.

He believed that Iraq “can exploit its strong point” to attract major Chinese joint ventures in various fields.

“Iraq needs the Chinese experience, and through the project of the BRI, our communication and cooperation with China will be closer,” the researcher added.

He called on Chinese companies to invest in Iraq, adding that “the Iraqi market is promising and needs Chinese expertise.”