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This week’s top Belt and Road news

Belt and Road Advisory

 
This week’s top Belt and Road news
 
China and the US make progress with trade talks: Another round of trade talks between the US and China officially concluded, with some progress made according to both sides. Liu He will visit the US for another round of talks on 30 and 31 January.
 
France and China to pursue joint BRI projects: In the latest example of Belt and Road opening up to third countries, Chinese Ambassador to France Zhai Jun announced that France and China would jointly launch infrastructure and ecology projects under BRI.
 
Kim Jong Un visits China: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traveled to China on Monday at the request of President Xi Jinping. It's Kim's fourth visit to China in a year, and this visit coincides with his birthday!
 
Pakistani insurgents to target BRI projects: Separatist insurgents in Balochistan, Pakistan, have vowed to continue attacks on #BeltandRoad projects in the region, despite the assassination of their commander two weeks ago (something China described as a “good development”.)
 
Tesla launches a wholly owned factory in Shanghai: Elon Musk attended the launch ceremony Tesla’s $5bn factory in Shanghai that is expected to begin producing electric cars by the end 2019. Gigafactory 3 will be China's first wholly foreign-owned car plant.
 
And all other Belt and Road news
 
Trade and Investment
 
China sees external debt grow:China’s foreign debt grew by 14% versus last years and presents a growing risk to financial stability. Official external debt is $1.9 tn, a small proportion for a $13tn economy, but that may well be a significant underestimation
 
China announces new trade facilitation project: China has announced a new trade facilitation pilot project that includes optimizing document checks and cutting red tape. For real legitimate foreign exchange income, enterprises can now directly transfer the money to their current accounts.
 
More fiscal spending on the way:Beijing is ramping up fiscal spending in an effort to boost a flagging economy and buy more breathing space as it negotiates a trade deal with Washington, giving the green light to $125 billion of new rail projects.
 
China looks to stimulate consumption: As well as moderately boosting fiscal expenditure, China is looking to alternative measures to stimulate consumption. New policies to boost the auto, appliances, housing rental, healthcare, and sports sectors are in the pipelines.
 
China sees car sales fall for the first time in 2 decades: China recorded its first annual slump in auto sales in more than two decades in 2018. Sales in the world’s biggest market fell 6 percent to 22.7 million units, the China Passenger Car Association said Wednesday.
 
AIIB looks to develop infrastructure as an asset class: TheAsian Infrastructure Investment Bank's board of directors has approved $500 million for a managed credit portfolio, which aims to develop infrastructure as an asset class and develop debt capital markets for infrastructure
 
Politics
 
ASEAN countries cautious about BRI survey shows: The survey by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute polled 1,008 respondents from all ASEAN nations. 70% of countries said their governments "should be cautious in negotiating BRI projects, to avoid getting into unsustainable financial debts with China,” 
 
China-Senegal healthcare BRI cooperation: China has offered assistance under the Belt and Road to Senegal in recent years in the form of building hospitals, sending medical teams and providing free treatment. Healthcare is becoming a new arm of the BRI.
 
Uganda looks to China for railway: Uganda is still in talks with neighboring Kenya and the Export-Import Bank of China over the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), Uganda's Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija said.
 
ADB backs BRI: MDBs are broadly backing the Belt and Road. President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Takehiko Nakao on Friday welcomed the initiative and described it as a “good idea”
 
Poland arrests Huawei Director:Poland’s counter-intelligence service has arrested Chinese sales director of tech giant Huawei and a Polish former senior intelligence agent in Warsaw on suspicion of spying. China’s MofA expressed grave concerns over the incident
 
Tourism becomes a prominentfeature of BRI: China has become a major driving force for tourism in BRI countries in recent years. The number of trips made by Chinese tourists to those countries grew from about 15.5 million in 2013 to more than 27 million in 2017, a 77% rise.  
 
Projects
 
Sri Lanka aims to attract $3bn FDI in 2019: The Sri Lankan government on Friday said it is aiming to attract $3 billion of foreign direct investment in 2019. Several mega projects were being discussed with international investors. This represents a 30% increase on 2018. delayed due to the political instability experienced towards the later part of the year.
 
Nepal looks to India and China for railway support: Nepali Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said on Sunday that Nepal’s new cross-border railways will be developed with assistance from both China and India. The Himalayan country is applying a smart hedging strategy.
 
Kenya plans to teach mandarin:Kenya plans to introduce teachingof Mandarin Chinese in primary schools in 2020, a government official said on Monday. The design, scope and sequence of the mandarin syllabus have alreadybeing completed.
 
Liaoning looks to create Free Trade Port: Officials in Liaoning Province are exploring the possibility of creating a Free Trade Port in Liaoning, making it a regional hub for North East Asia. The hub could become a focal point for DPRK and China collaboration
 
China-Singapore program sees FDI success: Chinese firms have raised around 8.5 billion U.S. dollars in cross-border financing deals through a China-Singapore inter-government program over the past three years.

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