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Chinese investments in Belt and Road Initiatives plunge

*According to the China Global Investment Tracker, investments in the new silk roads dropped to just over US$ 25 billion in the first half of the year, down from US$ 126 billion last year. The pandemic worsened the negative trend. Many BRI projects in Africa and Asia have stalled or slowed down sharply.*

Beijing (AsiaNews) – In the first six months of 2020, Chinese investments in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) fell to just over US$ 25 billion, the China Global Investment Tracker reported.

Last year, overall Chinese investment in the programme aimed at turning China into the centre of world trade had reached US$ 105. However, the pandemic worsened a slowdown that was already evident. In fact, in 2018 Chinese investments in the new silk roads stood at US$ 126 billion.

For analysts, the BRI decline is due to slower Chinese economic growth, the growing geopolitical conflict between China and the United States, and the serious debt situation of many of BRI partner countries.

Beijing’s conditions for investments is also a major factor. China’s main financial institutions, like the China Development Bank and the China Exim Bank, only grant loans to BRI projects if Chinese companies participate and if a certain percentage of materials and components come from the China. This discriminates against companies from “beneficiary” countries.

The lower figures were released yesterday. They show that China added a total of US$ 8.1 billion of non-financial outbound direct investment (ODI) into countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, up 19.4 per cent year on year. This does not include acquisitions of foreign companies or company shares, which dropped significantly, the China Global Investment Tracker noted.

More recently, many BRI projects in Africa and Asia have stalled or slowed down sharply as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which seriously affected about 20 per cent of BRI projects; another 40 per cent were adversely affected, with the remaining 30-40 per cent “somewhat affected”, this according to Wang Xiaolong, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s International Economic Affairs Department.

Presently, with many countries still reeling from the effects of COVID-19 on their populations and economies, it will be almost impossible for China to reach the same overseas investment levels of the past few years any time soon.


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