China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aims to improve China’s ‘connectivity’ with the rest of the world and help close the gap between China’s wealthy eastern states and the underdeveloped west of China. The idea is to promote development and economic cooperation along land routes through Central Asia to Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and sea routes connecting Chinese ports to Europe and the South Pacific.
At its simplest, it is a policy for Chinese investment in infrastructure including ports, rail, bridges, oil and gas pipelines, and roads within China, across Europe and Asia and throughout the Indo-Pacific. However, it also marks a foreign policy and economic development strategy for China’s pursuit of engagement and investment with the rest of the world.
So far, 68 countries including New Zealand have signed up to the project but Australia has not. At the start of this year, Australian federal ministers closely examined and rejected a Chinese investment proposal to link the Government’s plans for northern Australia to the Belt and Road Initiative. Senior Government officials are against Australia joining the project because of strategic and security concerns, believing it unwise to deepen Australia’s dependence on China.
Nevertheless, the One Belt One Road investment initiative will open the door to major opportunities for Australian businesses. Our challenge is to show caution while being open to its potentially huge benefits. Australian expertise is already in demand and, in some sectors, companies are astounded at the scale of the opportunity that this enormous capital injection is likely to bring. Businesses in banking, construction, infrastructure, export/import and professional services are all set to benefit.
There is no shortage of Australian media coverage on the Belt and Road Initiative, but can you imagine the communications efforts of the Chinese government behind such a transformational project for their country? Accru Felsers partner firms in Shanghai and Macau have compiled an extensive reference guide to China’s Belt and Road websites which include Chinese ministries, government departments and databases, forums and Research Centres – some in both Chinese and English. Businesses at the frontline of what China needs to make this massive project a reality will find it invaluable.
Accru Felsers works closely with partner firms in China and throughout Asia to help our clients achieve business success in the region. See our Accru Asia website and please get in touch if we can assist.