US firms ready to join new Silk Road projects

New Straits Times - - Business - MATT POT­TINGER

BEI­JING/NEW DELHI: United States com­pa­nies are ready to get in­volved in China’s Silk Road project, said an Amer­i­can of­fi­cial yes­ter­day, as Wash­ing­ton strikes an in­creas­ingly co­op­er­a­tive tone with its big­gest trade ri­val.

At an in­ter­na­tional sum­mit show­cas­ing China’s am­bi­tious One Belt, One Road ini­tia­tive, US del­e­gate Matt Pot­tinger said Amer­i­can firms had “much to of­fer” the project.

“US firms have a long and suc­cess­ful track record in global in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment and are ready to par­tic­i­pate in Belt and Road projects.”

But he warned that the project’s suc­cess would de­pend on a num­ber of fac­tors, in­clud­ing “trans­parency” in gov­ern­ment pro­cure­ment, “high-qual­ity fi­nanc­ing” to avoid un­sus­tain­able debt bur­dens and broad par­tic­i­pa­tion.

The project spans some 65 coun­tries rep­re­sent­ing 60 per cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion and about a third of global gross do­mes­tic prod­uct.

China De­vel­op­ment Bank has ear­marked US$890 bil­lion (RM3.87 tril­lion) for some 900 projects.

Pot­tinger’s com­ments fol­low an agree­ment on Fri­day be­tween Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton to give US beef, nat­u­ral gas and cer­tain fi­nan­cial ser­vices ac­cess to China’s mas­sive mar­ket.

Aus­tralian Trade Min­is­ter Steven Ciobo said yes­ter­day that the coun­try was re­cep­tive to exploring com­mer­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties China’s new Silk Road presents to the coun­try’s busi­nesses, but any de­ci­sions would re­main in­cum­bent on na­tional in­ter­est.

Un­like New Zealand, which has signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing on co­op­er­a­tion, Aus­tralia and other ma­jor Western economies have so far re­sisted over­tures to for­mally sign up to the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive.

Aus­tralia’s re­luc­tance to com­mit stems at least in part from reser­va­tions against link­ing an ex­ten­sive North­ern Aus­tralia in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment plan di­rectly with China’s Silk Road, said sources.

“Al­though the North­ern Aus­tralia ini­tia­tive is sep­a­rate to the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, there are clearly com­ple­men­tar­i­ties there, so we can share knowl­edge and we can share ex­pe­ri­ence for the ben­e­fit of both na­tions,” he said at the sum­mit in Bei­jing.

Mean­while, In­dia has not sent an of­fi­cial del­e­ga­tion to at­tend the fo­rum and in­stead crit­i­cised China’s global ini­tia­tive, warn­ing of an “un­sus­tain­able debt bur­den” for coun­tries in­volved.

“No coun­try can ac­cept a project that ig­nores its core con­cerns on sovereignty and ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity,” said In­dian for­eign min­istry spokesman Gopal Baglay. Agen­cies

Amer­i­can firms have much to of­fer the project.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.