Doubt over re­port on China ini­tia­tive

The Press - - Business -

Can­ter­bury Uni­ver­sity aca­demic An­neMarie Brady says PwC’s lat­est re­port on China’s Belt and Road ini­tia­tive has ig­nored a large body of crit­i­cal anal­y­sis.

Op­por­tu­ni­ties for Kiwi busi­nesses from the China-led project were pre­sented by Sir Don McKin­non at a func­tion in Christchurch yes­ter­day held by the New Zealand China Coun­cil.

PwC said it did not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the Gov­ern­ment’s views.

The Belt and Road ini­tia­tive, an­nounced by Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping in 2013 and named in the Chi­nese con­sti­tu­tion, aims to ex­pand trade from China to the Mid­dle East, Europe, Africa, and South Amer­ica via New Zealand.

Brady de­scribed it as the Xi gov­ern- ment’s ini­tia­tive to cre­ate a Chi­na­cen­tred eco­nomic bloc which will re­shape the global or­der.

Also known as One Belt, One Road (OBOR), it seeks in­vest­ment part­ner­ships to ac­quire global nat­u­ral re­source as­sets and seek in­ter­na­tional in­fra­struc­ture projects, she said.

Ac­cord­ing to PwC’s re­port, Belt and Road will be one of the most im­por­tant eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for New Zealand over next decade.

The re­port iden­ti­fied trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion such as cus­toms clear­ance pro­to­cols, sup­ply-chain hubs, in­no­va­tion and com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of re­search, eas­ier move­ment of goods and peo­ple be­tween South Amer­ica and China via New Zealand, cre­ative op­por­tu­ni­ties for Weta Work­shop, and game sim­u­la­tion.

China is un­der­tak­ing seven trans­port projects in­clud­ing roads, rail­ways and ports link­ing its cities with Europe, Rus­sia, the his­toric Silk Road to Tur­key, and high­ways to Pakistan, Myan­mar and South­east Asia, plus ‘‘mar­itime silk roads’’ to Africa and Ocea­nia. En­hanc­ing links be­tween New Zealand and South Amer­ica would en­hance over­all se­cu­rity of sup­ply for goods from China, the re­port said.

New Zealand was the first West­ern de­vel­oped na­tion to sign a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing on the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive in March 2017 un­der Na­tional, and it in­cluded agri­cul­tural re­search co-op­er­a­tion.

PwC con­cluded that New Zealand could not af­ford to pass up the op­por­tu­nity of Belt and Road.

Mean­while, Can­ter­bury Uni­ver­sity’s Brady said China was in­ter­ested in New Zealand be­cause of its influence over Pa­cific is­lands for vot­ing power in the United Na­tions, ac­cess to Antarc­tica, cheap arable land, and the pos­si­bil­ity of di­lut­ing the Five Eyes spy de­fence ar­range­ment with West­ern al­lies.

The March 2017 sign­ing co­in­cided with the launch of the Ocea­nia Silk Road Net­work, the New Zealand OBOR Foun­da­tion, and the New Zealand OBOR Think Tank.

Brady said Labour did not yet have an of­fi­cial pol­icy.

In a speech on March 14, Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern made one brief ref­er­ence: ‘‘The Belt and Road ini­tia­tive is a pri­or­ity for China. New Zealand is con­sid­er­ing ar­eas we want to en­gage in the ini­tia­tive, and other ar­eas where we will be in­ter­ested ob­servers.

‘‘We will look to co-op­er­ate with China to pro­mote re­gional sta­bil­ity and devel­op­ment, con­sis­tent with New Zealand val­ues of open­ness, trans­parency and the rule of law,’’ Ardern said.

DOUG FIELD/STUFF

Sir Don McKin­non pre­sents a PwC re­port on China’s global trade and in­vest­ment ini­tia­tive, Belt and Road, at a func­tion in Christchurch.

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