US groups gear up to participate in B&R projects

By ZHAO HUANXIN in Washington | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-17 07:11

The United States has formed a working group to ramp up the participation of US companies in Belt and Road Initiative projects, a top Trump administration official said at the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing which wrapped up on Monday.

Matthew Pottinger, special assistant to the US President, said the US encouraged all participants to work toward the infrastructure goals of the initiative, and his country's companies were ready to participate in its projects.

"US firms have a long and successful track record in global infrastructure development, and are ready to participate in the Belt and Road projects," said Pottinger.

Pottinger, who is also the senior director for Asia at the National Security Council, told a forum infrastructure session that the American Belt and Road Working Group, formed as a partnership between the US embassy in Beijing and US companies, will serve as "one node" for cooperation on the initiative.

He said the United States has wide experience in global infrastructure development in projects that feature transparency in government procurement, support for institution-building in host countries, and inclusivity and broad participation from the private sector.

The Belt and Road Initiative was first proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 to create a new platform for international cooperation.

Xi said at the opening of the forum on Sunday that infrastructure connectivity is the foundation of development through cooperation.

"We should promote land, maritime, air and cyberspace connectivity, concentrate our efforts on key passageways, cities and projects and connect networks of highways, railways and sea ports," he told the forum.

Xi said that China will allocate an extra 100 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) into the existing Silk Road Fund, 380 billion yuan in loans for infrastructure and development projects, and 60 billion yuan in aid to developing countries and international bodies in economies related to the newly revived trade routes.

Xi also said China will endeavor to build a win-win business partnership with other countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative.

US companies would be no exception to this.

The New York Times, in an article posted on its website on Monday entitled "US Firms Want in on China's Global 'One Belt, One Road' Spending", cited General Electric as a winner in the initiative.

It said that in 2014, Chinese construction and engineering companies ordered $400 million worth of equipment from GE to install overseas, overwhelmingly in the region that encompasses the Belt and Road Initiative.

Last year, those orders totaled $2.3 billion, the newspaper reported, and GE planned to bid for an additional $7 billion in orders for natural-gas turbines and other power equipment over the next 18 months.

Tian Deyou, economic and commercial minister-counselor at the Chinese embassy in Washington, said that some US think tanks and companies were "negative" about the initiative when it was first raised.

But he added last week that US companies are gradually changing their attitudes and actively want to join the projects.

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