The Road Less Travelled: European Involvement in China's Belt and Road Initiative

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China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been described as everything from the Chinese Marshall Plan to a tool for debt-trap diplomacy. Extensive reporting on the BRI has been done from political, economic, and strategic perspectives, but much less has been written from the business perspective. The European Chamber is publishing a report to fill this critical gap in the discussion and better represent what the BRI means for companies. The report finds that only a small portion of European companies have been able to participate in BRI-related projects, while a slightly broader number have enjoyed positive effects as a result of the BRI such as access to new logistics options and increasing trade flows with recipient countries.

However, the BRI has failed to become the open, transparent and international initiative that it often claims to be as bidding processes are opaque and China’s SOEs take the lead, and the bulk of the value, from BRI-related projects. The report also covers concerns about the BRI as China’s national champions use it as a platform to push China’s standards in critical areas while they also take advantage of state support as they scale-up. This drives the need for alternatives to the BRI to emerge, such as the EU Connectivity Plan, which was announced in September 2018. The BRI needs competition that drives recipient countries to demand better practices from it, and the European Chamber is eager to see Europe step up and provide it.

Please click here to read English press release and click here to read Chinese press release.

English Version (PDF)