Event Report: The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): Reshaping the Global Value Chain
The European Movement International (EMI), ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), the EU-Asia Centre, and UEAPME jointly organised a conference on The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): Reshaping the Global Value Chain, to discuss the implications of China‘s grand scheme to link Asia and Europe together via new massive infrastructure projects in Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans.
Maggie McGhee, ACCA‘s Director of Professional Insights opened the conference. After keynote remarks from Counsellor Shi Wei, from the Mission of China to the EU, and Xavier Coget, from the Cabinet of Vice President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen, participants heard two lively panel discussions.
The Panel debate on economic and policy implications of the BRI, moderated by Fraser Cameron, Director EU-Asia Centre entailed Luc Devigne, Deputy Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia and Director for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia, Regional Cooperation and OSCE at the European External Action Service, Anna Saarela, from the European Parliament, DG EXPO, Policy Department, Natasha Khanjenkova , Managing Director Central Asia & Russia at the EBRD, Liina Carr, Confederal Secretary, ETUC; and Venerable Ji-jing, Chief Monk of Shanghai Dragon Monastery and Chengdu Daci Monastery.
The Panel on Business experiences, moderated by Ada Leung, Head of ACCA China, was comprised of Gwenn Sonck, Executive Director of the EU-China Business Association; Dilek Aydin, TÜSİAD & TÜRKONFED Representative to the EU – Brussels, Maurice Fermont, International Trade Adviser at BusinessEurope; Liqin HE, General Manager at Bank of China (Luxembourg) S.A. Brussels Branch, and Alain Baron, Team leader of the EU-China Connectivity platform, at DG MOVE, European Commission.
Concluding remarks were delivered by Jo Leinen, MEP, Head of the EP EU-China Delegation and Honorary President of the European Movement International.
The debate revealed that BRI brings important opportunities for the countries on its route, and could help bridging the infrastructure financing gap, increase connectivity, link local markets to regional and global value chains, thereby increasing trade and investment in these countries. But speakers also highlighted several geopolitical, developmental and regulatory challenges.
BRI‘s success and fostering connection between the EU and China will require more than just building physical infrastructure, and any kind of infrastructure- whether land, sea, air or digital- should not be designed in isolation. Soft infrastructure (such as modern customs clearance systems) is critical, as well as structural reforms and improvements in investment climate, including the challenge of identifying environmentally sustainable and financially viable projects or of minimising the risk of their failure.
It was stressed that BRI needs to adhere to principles such as market rules and international standards, and should complement existing network and policies in place, like the EU-China Connectivity platform.
The full conference report can be found here and a video of highlights and interviews is available below.