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This week’s top BRI news

Belt and Road Advisory

 
AIIB approves 6 new members; total now 93: The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) announced that its Board of Governors has approved the membership applications of six more countries, bringing AIIB's total approved members to 93.
 
China to further reduce tariffs from 2019: Starting on January 1 2019, China plans to remove import and export duties on a range of goods, including zero tariffs on ingredients for livestock feeds and certain medicines, according to the finance ministry.
 
China releases negative list for investment: China has released its first nationwide “negative list” for investment applying to both domestic and foreign investors.  NDRC and the MofCOM specified 151 areas that are either banned to non-state businesses or require government approval for entry.
 
Silk Road visa to launch in early 2019: As part of ongoing efforts to introduce a single visa for all Central Asia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan agreed to launch a Silk Visa in early 2019. According to reports, Kazakhstan also plans to bring Azerbaijan and Turkey into the Silk Visa as well.
 
And all other BRI News
 
Trade and Investment
 
China’s annual Central Economic Work Conference was held last week. The key message from this year’s CEWC was that the overall framework of economic policy is not set to change.
 
Invesco launches BRI fund: Invesco has launched a Belt and Road fixed income fund that will invest primarily in US dollar-denominated sovereign, investment grade, and high yield corporate bonds from issuers that directly or indirectly benefit from BRI.
 
Hit by trade tensions, factory jobs in China are drying up. Many orders were shifted in advance to avoid higher tariffs, but it seems that front-loading is now over and the slowdown is hitting Chinese manufacturing.
 
Analysts say trade war to hit China in 2019: So far, China's economy has been struggling more with domestic issues rather than tariffs. But there are signs of challenges the trade issues could add to the economy next year after front-loading of sales wears off.
 
Politics
 
Survey suggests 50% of BRI countries risky: An study by Peking University of 100 countries concluded that around half would be bad or risky investments for the Belt and Road initiative due to financing and trade weaknesses. Russia, Singapore & Malaysia top the list for most suitable countries.
Putin to be key guest at BRI forum:Vladimir Putin has been told that he will be a key guest and the most important foreign participant and the second international Belt and Road Forum to be held in April 2019 in Beijing. Around 40 heads of state are expected to attend.
 
State media announces successful BRI projects: Chinese state media has outlined what it deems to be some of the most successful BRI projects of 2018. They included the China-Laos railway, Jakarta-Bandung railway and a number of projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
 
Projects
 
Risks around Kenyan port of Mombasa: Kenya runs the risk of losing control of the Port of Mombasa if it should default on loans from state financial institution China Exim Bank, according to a new report from Kenya's auditor general. The terms of a $2.3 billion loan for Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) specify that the port's assets are collateral, and they are not protected by Kenya's sovereign immunity due to a waiver in the contract.

A Belt and Road business and trade service park is to be built in the Czech Republic. The Europe Huajie Development Company signed a cooperation agreement with Rustonka, a Czech real estate developer.
 
Tripoli becoming key hub: The Port of Tripoli in Lebanon has become a central destination for weekly shipments from China to the Eastern Mediterranean. China Harbor Engineering Company has been working to rehabilitate the Port of Tripoli since 2012, for it to be ready to receive all big vessels
 
Chinese built industrial parks in Ethiopia see rapid growth: Ethiopia has earned 38 million U.S. dollars in export revenues from its flagship Chinese-built Hawassa industrial park in the last two years. This comes from over 20 local and foreign firms producing textiles there.
 
First Japanese freight train departs from China to Europe: The first Chang'an China-Europe Nippon Express freight train departed from Xi'an Port on December 20th. The goods, valued at over $17 million, mainly come from large Japanese companies investing in China.
 
Maritime Silk Road Environment Forecast system launched: The Maritime Silk Road Environment Forecast System for protecting the marine environment and averting marine accidents has been launched. It covers the South China Sea, Arabian Sea, and Bay of Bengal as well as 67 major ports.

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