The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which was announced in 2013 has completed five years of operation. Till mid-2018, the total Chinese investment in BRI development projects were aroundUS$ 340 billion and 92 countries (65 percent of global population) had formally endorsed the initiative. Most investments under the BRI areoutside of China along traditional “Silk Routes”. Oil and Gas sector has received most support, followed by power but not transport. BRI projects are purely driven by loans (by borrowing countries) but can have relaxed repayment schedule. However, the overall size of total Chinese investments (equity and loans) in BRI countries appear to be significantly smaller than the numbers commonly reported in media. The actual numbers may come down as some of the agreed projects may get reconfigured or even cancelled, especially in countries like Malaysia, Myanmar, and even Pakistan. On positive side, BRI provides significant amount of capital to the participating countries. It reduces transportation costs, particularly for landlocked countries. It also recycles China’s large surpluses. On the other hand, China, through the BRI, is placing the global economy at risk while simultaneously strengthening its own ability to compete. Nonetheless, BRI is viewed as an economic opportunity. BRI has the potential to foster global trade provided it adds transparency, governance, and importantly it becomes a multilateralised initiative while respecting the sovereignty and integrity of the participating countries. This presentation reviews the achievements of BRI, identifies failures and discusses the opportunities.
About the Speaker
Dr. Prabir De is a Professor at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), New Delhi. Dr. De works in the field of international economics and has research interests in international trade and development. He was a Visiting Fellow of the Institute of Developing Economies (IDE-JETRO), Chiba; Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), Tokyo; and Visiting Senior Fellow of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Bangkok. He has been conducting policy research for the Government of India and several national and international organisations. Dr. De has a Ph.D. in Economics from the Jadavpur University, Kolkata. He has contributed several research papers in international journals and written books on trade and development. His recent edited books include Celebrating the Third Decade and Beyond: New Challenges to ASEAN – India Economic Partnership (Routledge, 2018, Reprint); Myanmar's Integration with the World: Challenges and Policy Options (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017); and Twenty Years of BIMSTEC: Promoting Regional Cooperation and Integration in the Bay of Bengal Region (BIMSTEC Secretariat, 2018). He is also the Editor of South Asia Economic Journal, published by Sage.
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