US firms ready to join new Silk Road projects
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.