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This week’s top BRI news

BRI Briefing

Our BRI Briefing summarizes and analyzes key news related to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) over the last week. 
 
This week’s top BRI news

Source: Belt and Road Advisory
 
BRI MoU with Philippines shows focus on transparency: A leaked Belt and Road MoU between China and the Philippines includes a provision that projects should be developed with 'complete transparency'. This is a good move and shows China is listening and attempting to make BRI more transparent
 
China opens up the insurance sector to foreign firms: China’s Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission gave German insurer Allianz permission to set up a wholly-owned insurance holding company in Shanghai. This represents an acceleration in the liberalization of the insurance sector.
 
China proposes WTO reform: China is more actively pushing for reform of the WTO. It wants to “lock unilateralism inside the cage of multilateralism”, improve the say of developing economies and reform the dispute settlement body.
 
Leaders sign new USMCA:President Trump, Canadian PM Trudeau & Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed the new U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement — or USMCA — in Buenos Aires on the sidelines of the G20 Summit
 
US and China reach short-term trade deal: US and China called a truce in their trade war after Trump agreed to hold off on new tariffs and President Xi Jinping pledged to increase Chinese purchases of American products. The two have 90 days to resolve structural trade challenges.
 
And all other BRI news
 
Trade and Investment
 
China and Panama progress FTA: China and Panama held the fourth round of negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) in November, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.
 
Taiwanese President to step down after local election losses: Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced plans to step down as party chairwoman following sweeping midterm losses against a rival party that favors closer relations with China.
 
Shanghai FTZ doing well:Highlighting the continued importance of Free Trade Zones, Shanghai FTZ generated 42.9 percent of Shanghai’s total trade in the first 10 months of 2018. Over 28,000 firms are located in the zones.
 
New BRI road project in Laos: The China North Industries Group Corporation Limited (NORINCO) has launched a road upgrading project in central and southern Laos. The timeline for construction is 36 months.  

New BRI project in Palestine:Palestinian city of Ramallah launched on Monday a China-funded project to build a ring road connecting different parts of the town. The project, worth $8mn, is expected to be completed within 14 months.
 
BRI Economic Zone in Zambia: A consortium of Chinese firms will construct an Economic Zone in central Zambia's Chibombo district. It will cover 600 hectares of land, with an initial investment of $300mn in the first phase which will create more than 5,000 jobs.  

First truck makes journey across Eurasia: In a 13-day journey, the first truck from China to Europe completed its journey. Cost and delivery time is competitive with both air and rail. The truck started in Kashgar, traveled through Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus before reaching Poland.
 
China becomes a 2nd largest trading partner of Latin America:China has become the second largest trading partner of Latin America, while Latin America is ranked the second for Chinese overseas investment, following Asia, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said Thursday.
 
Politics
 
Xi to keynote at St Petersburg Forum: Russian President Putin has invited Chinese President Xi Jinping as the main guest to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in 2019. Similarly, Xi has done the same for Putin at the BRI Summit.
 
China and India make progress relationship: Senior officials of China and India had reached some important consensus on boundary issues during a Saturday meeting, said a press release from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
 
BRI Perceptions Survey: A recent survey of 8,500 people in 17 countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative has shown that China has relatively high recognition and is praised for its path and international influence. Of the respondents, more than 70 percent agreed with the concepts of "Chinese Dream", the Belt and Road and "a community with a shared future for mankind".
 
China and Myanmar to strengthen relationship: China and Myanmar have pledged to jointly push forward the building of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor under the Belt and Road. The pledge came as Ning Jizhe, deputy head of China's National Development and Reform Commission visited Myanmar. 
 
London holds Belt and Road forum: A forum was held in London on Monday with focus on the Belt and Road Initiative and green finance, with more than 50 participants from political, industrial and financial fields in both China and Britain. The UK’s BRI envoy to China, Douglas Flint, attended.
 
Xi visits Spain: President Xi was in Spain, before heading to Portugal and then onto the G20 in Argentina. During his time in Spain, a concert was performed devoted to Belt and Road and the two countries celebrated 45 years of diplomatic ties. However, Spain will not officially sign on to Belt and Road, a senior government official said ahead of a visit by President Xi Jinping. This marks a setback for China, as Italy had just signed a MoU on BRI.

Maldives locked into Belt and Road contracts: Maldives President revealed on Monday that the island nation could not get out of its financial agreements with China despite Bejing building infrastructure projects inside the island nation at higher prices than initially quoted.
 
Projects
 
Philippines and China build 10-year infrastructure partnership: The Philippines and China have agreed to cooperate on infrastructure for the next ten years. The infrastructure cooperation program is one of the 29 bilateral deals signed during the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping this month.  
 
Ethiopia holds China BRI forum:Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa holds a high-level Africa-China Business Forum on Nov. 27 and hundreds of Chinese companies take part at the meeting creating ties with their Ethiopian and African counterparts.
 
Chinese workers accused of bribery in Kenya: Three Chinese workers on a Kenyan Belt and Road rail project will be charged by the country’s anti-corruption authority for paying a bribe to influence the outcome of fraud investigations.
 
Yamal project now complete: The flagship Yamal liquefied natural gas project in the Yamal Peninsula in Russia is now fully complete and all lines are producing gas. This marks the largest economic cooperation project between China and Russia.  

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