Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has praised China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), having returned home from the project’s second international forum in Beijing across the weekend.

O’Neill described the BRI as being impressively broad in scale and potentially a huge benefit for all those involved, according to Papua New Guinea’s media outlet The National.

“This is a big market and through better transport systems and supply chains, it offers great opportunities for our food producers and other small and medium enterprises,” the prime minister was quoted as saying.

O’Neill said it was his intention to represent the perspectives of the region on a range of critical issues.

“The Belt and Road Initiative is aimed at delivering sustainable economic growth and lifting living standards, reducing poverty, enhancing job creation and creating business opportunities,” he said.

Prime Minister O’Neill explained that the initiative relies not just on hard infrastructure such as roads, bridges and airports but also soft infrastructure, like “logistics, technical capacity building, skills sharing, access to finance markets at concessional rates and cultural exchange through education and tourism.”

He described these as creating advantages for PNG in the coming digital economy which holds exciting advancements in the realms of artificial intelligence, technologies, automation and financial technology.