BRI unlocking global growth challenges

China gained rapid economic development following numerous reforms implemented by the Chinese government over the last four decades.

What makes Beijing more fascinating is how the East Asian giant leaped swiftly from dust to glory on the global economic rankings to claim its present spot of the second-largest economy after the US.

In the late 1970s, China was among the developing countries anchoring the world economic rankings, but has since turned the tables to achieve its milestone after surpassing Japan, Germany, Britain, India, France and Italy.

China has lifted over 850 million people out of poverty since 1980, according to recent statistics from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In its July 2018 World Economic Outlook, IMF further projected that Beijing could unseat the US on the global economic index by 2030 due to its progressive reforms.

China, which is also the fastest developing country, now extended its development agenda to other developing countries in Africa, Asia and Europe on a win-win cooperation basis to support them in their quest to boost their national economies.

Among its popular international development blueprints is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aimed at cutting trade costs and boosting foreign investments and cooperation in 152 countries from Asia, Africa and Europe.

The BRI was launched in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping to facilitate financial integration and development of infrastructure, energy, technology and transport projects.

In 2017, for instance, China built a Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Mombasa to Nairobi in Kenya worth over $3 billion under the BRI framework through a loan from China’s Exim Bank.

A similar SGR was constructed in Nigeria in 2016, linking the capital Abuja to Kaduna State, while in Ethiopia a cross-border electric railway was built in Addis Ababa to Djibouti’s Red Sea port through.

In Southeast Asia, BRI has equally implemented numerous projects in Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Pakistan in South Asia and Egypt in the Middle East have also benefited massively from BRI.

The multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure development plan has in its six years of existence also covered countries like Russia in Eastern Europe and many Latin American countries.

Most importantly, since its inception, BRI has also been an essential tool for implementing sustainable development in Africa, Asia and Europe.

In doing so, the framework complements the African Union’s (AU) agenda 2063 and the United Nations (UN) 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), just as it supports the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) growth and poverty reduction goals.

Speaking during the Second BRI Summit in Beijing in April this year, President Xi urged about 40 leaders from participating countries to join him in creating a global connectivity cooperation that aims to achieve common development and prosperity.

Statistics indicate that since 2013, the trade volume between China and BRI participating countries has exceeded $6 trillion, with investments worth over $80 billion and the creation of about 300,000 jobs.

Currently, BRI involves over 60 countries and this year Italy, a member of the European Union (EU) and Group of 20 (G-20), signed up for the initiative which also seeks to boost Sino-European ties.

Based on their massive attendance at this year’s second BRI Summit, many heads of state and government from participating countries believe the BRI is a practical tool for transforming their economies.

For Africa, this framework will ultimately boost the continent’s integration and trade competitiveness, thereby widening access to foreign markets for the 54 member states.

(Chris Nhlane is a Malawian journalist working for The Nation newspaper and is one of the participants for the 2019 China Africa Press Centre Programme.)

Editor: 王若寒