Investment and Financing under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): EU and Chinese stakeholders share their views at European Business Summit 2018

Bent and Road Initiative_EBS 2018

Roundtable: Visions and Actions. China-EU Dialogue on the Belt and Road Initiative . Panel discussion: Investment and Financing under the BRI. (The European Sting, 2018)

The Investment and Financing under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) panel concluded the much promising and enlightening views of the EU and Chinese stakeholders on the visions and actions required for the cooperation between Europe and China under the BRI.

The panel discussion commenced with Shada Islam of Friends of Europe asking the German panelist, MEP Helmut Scholz, about the opinion of the European Parliament on BRI the moment EU’s responses on BRI are still mixed according to the moderator. Helmut Scholz said that “investments and projects have to serve certain interest and contribute to the development on the concerned areas”. Furthermore, the German MEP stressed that there might be an issue concerning the loans of the countries which are economically vulnerable and asked the panelists who represented the banks to answer whether the Belt and Road Initiative could be a temptation for financial sharks.

Wu Zhifeng, Director of International Strategy Department of Research Institute of China Development Bank, mentioned that since the financing of BRI is so big, we are going to need all the tools we can get in order to be able to benefit the most. Wu Zhifeng also pointed that global cooperation is very important as “China cannot do it alone”.

Johan de Wit, Vice President of the Bank of Beijing, later took the floor to address the issue of investments and financing of the BRI. Johan de Wit spoke about the opportunities of the BRI but underlined that EU companies have still a long way to go till BRI is fully exploited.

Luisa Santos, Director for International Relations of BusinessEurope, started by questioning the existence of opportunities from the EU side. This Director of BusinessEurope wandered whether this is a problem of EU, China or both as there are EU companies in China but opportunities are not materialised yet. Ms Santos highlighted that firms must be aware of the liabilities and opportunities of a project in order to be able to apply for it. What is more, she mentioned that rules and conditions of contracts must be absolutely clear, without small letters, in order for the companies to be able to take a loan.

Lara Zheng, Executive assistant to President of EUPIC China Segree Dai, was the last panelist to discuss BRI. Lara Zheng, after thanking the rest of the panelists, introduced EUPIC, which is a non-profit organisation established in China promoting business cooperation between the EU and Asia, and the city of Chenghu to the audience. Ms Zheng also spoke about an EUPIC pilot project which is independent, self-sustainable, supports the EU – China cooperation and is meant to benefit EU stakeholders who want to enter the Chinese market.

To sum up, it was quite clear during the panel discussion that investment and finance is crucial for the BRI which is not yet fully exploited and has a lot more to contribute both to the EU and China.

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