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European companies struggle to find opportunities in China’s Belt and Road Initiative

“Despite the opportunities associated with a $1 trillion initiative to improve connectivity across the Eurasian landmass, European companies have scarcely been able to get involved in implementing BRI projects”, Maurice Fermont, Adviser on Trade Policy at BusinessEurope, said at a conference on Constructing China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Southeast Europe, organised in Berlin. He highlighted that there are opportunities in sectors such as construction, logistics, engineering, and services as well as for legal, consulting, banking and insurance services. But until now European companies have not been able to engage fully. “This is mainly due to a chronic lack of information about projects and how to get involved in them, but also due to the way in which China has employed economic diplomacy, government guarantees, subsidies, Exim financing, and non-transparent tenders as a way to push projects through and allocate contracts to its own companies”, Fermont explained. According to research by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, he added, 89% of companies in Chinese-funded projects are Chinese, while 7.6% are local companies and only 3.4% are non-local, non-Chinese companies. “Companies require more transparency about the projects and how to get involved, and a fair public procurement process, especially in European markets”, he stated.

Contact: Maurice Fermont

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