The First AIIB project in China
The Asian Infrastructure Bank (AIIB) approved a 250 million USD loan for its very first infrastructure project in China for a natural gas pipelines project in Beijing, which is estimated to provide power to over 200 thousand households and reduce Beijing's coal consumption by 650 thousand tons. The pipeline is expected to be complete in 2021. The project represents China's push to invest in sustainable infrastructure and promote cleaner sources of energy.
The Chinese firm Beijing Gas Group will receive the loan, making this the first loan the AIIB has granted to a corporation rather than a nation. Although the AIIB did not officially open until January 2016, it has already 24 projects with a total investment of 3.4 billion USD. Of these 24 projects, 10 focus on energy infrastructure. Read more here and here.
The One Belt One Road: from the Maldives to Pakistan
China and the Maldives agreed to strengthen bilateral ties under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. The Chinese President and the Maldivian President presided over the signing of twelve agreements, which included a memorandum of understanding, a free trade agreement, and agreements on the economy, human resources, oceans, environment, health care and finance. China also encouraged the two sides to share their experience in state governance, and work together to combat problems like crime, terrorism, and drug trafficking. Read more here.
At the Sino-Japanese Entrepreneurs and Former High-level Officials Dialogue in Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed Japan's approval to cooperate with China on their One Belt One Road Initiative. Japan has heightened their support for OBOR, based on the idea that a free and open Indo-Pacific region brings economic prosperity and peace. In his speech, Abe said he hopes to visit China next year to deepen relations between leaders and to bring Sino-Japanese relations to the next level. Read more here.
Beijing's new guidelines on releasing funds to Pakistan as part of the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) may force Pakistan to take on a greater share of the burden of anticipated projects. The funding of major infrastructure projects in Pakistan was supposed to be finalized a couple weeks ago. But, the Pakistan government was informed that the existing procedure for releasing funds had been abolished and new guidelines would be issued. Because the total cost of projects in Pakistan equals over 50 billion USD, officials in Pakistan are alarmed at this policy change. This new move reasserts China's position as the dominant player in its Belt and Road strategy, sending the message that they will play, but only on their terms. Read more here.
The Asian Development Bank in...
The ADB is loaning 250 million USD to Azerbaijan to support economic diversification in the heavily oil and gas-reliant country. Fossil fuel revenues make up 35 percent of Azerbaijan's gross domestic product, 60 percent of budget revenues, and over 90 percent of export revenues, so the loans aim to alleviate dependence on fossil fuels. The funds will focus on fiscal planning, governance of state-owned enterprises, and encouraging private sector participation.
In addition, the ADB is loaning 400 million USD to support Azerbaijani railways and to modernize connections with Russia and Iran. One loan of 250 million USD is for governance and financial management updates. The other 150 million USD loan will focus on the Sumgayit-Yalama rail line tracks. Read more here.
The ADB has subscribed to 88 million USD worth of shares in an initial public offering of Thailand's Gulf Energy Development Public Company Limited (Gulf Energy). ADB's financial support will aid Gulf Energy in increasing Thai power generation capacity and expanding renewable energy efforts. ADB's funding will additionally include an investment on behalf of the Leading Asia's Private Infrastructure Fund (LEAP), which is a major ADB co-financing fund focused on private sector infrastructure.
The ADB is loaning 346 million USD to India for highway upgrades in the state of Karnataka. The project seeks to improve road connections to sustain Karnataka's rapid economic development. The loan will fund increased road capacity, road safety projects, and improvements to the Karnataka Public Works, Ports, and Inland Water Transport Department.
The ADB is loaning 50 million USD to Cambodia's four largest provincial cities to develop water and sanitation services. The Provincial Water Supply and Sanitation Project aims to increase pipeline coverage and improve wastewater treatment in the rapidly growing urban centers of Cambodia. The project has a total cost of around 119.7 million USD. In addition to ADB's loan, the ADB-administered Japan Fund for the Joint Crediting Mechanism is granting 10 million USD, a jointly financed loan between ADB and the French Development Agency (AFD) will provide 43.54 million USD, the European Union's Asia Investment Facility through the AFD is providing 5.09 million USD, and the Cambodian government is contributing 10.54 million USD. The waterworks and sewerage project is expected to be complete in 2022.
The ADB is granting 2 million USD to the Marshall Islands for renewable energy efforts. The grant will finance the Majuro Power Network Strengthening Project. The project is part of the ADB Pacific Renewable Energy Investment Facility, which aims to provide renewable energy to numerous Pacific island nations. The Majuro Project will focus on the Marshalls Energy Company by assessing the electricity provider and providing plans to step away from Marshall Islands' dependency on diesel generation.
The ADB will provide 538 million USD in financing support to Reliance Power to help build a power plant and an LNG terminal in Bangladesh.
Chinese investment in Latin America
The former Chilean President, Eduardo Frei, spoke at the 11th China-LAC Business summit. His message was clear: trade deals between Latin American countries and China will be very difficult if Mercosur does not lower its taxes. Mercosur is an organization that includes most South American countries, founded with the purpose of promoting free trade. Read more here.
Petrobras, a Brazilian oil company, and the Chinese Development Bank agreed on a financing deal for 5 billion USD. The deal includes a 10-year term and work contracted with the Unipec Asia Company. This contract replaces a deal that will expire in 2019. Unipec Asia will receive preferential treatment and receive nearly 100,000 barrels of oil per day, rather than the 200,000 barrels in the initial agreement. Read more here and here.
Recently, China proposed 19 agreements of mass investments and cooperation in Panama. Moody’s Investors Service predicts that Panama will benefit from the major investments. The agency sees three agreements revolving around investment, commerce, and tourism as the most significant. In one agreement, the China Development Bank will open offices in Panama to encourage financing for development. This will help boost industrialism by increasing investment rates that have averaged out at 41 percent recently. Overall the agreement is meant to increase exports from Panama to China that are slim at 50 million USD compared to Chinese imports, which total around 1.1 billion USD.
The Panamanian government announced that it is studying the possibility of granting businesses ‘panda’ bonds, or bonds in the Chinese stock market. The ‘panda’ bonds market usually amounts to 300–500 million USD, but it has not been specified how much will be granted to Panama or what consequences the granted bonds might have on the national debt. Panama similarly issued 'Samurai' bonds totaling 500 million USD to the Japanese stock market in 2011. Read more here.
China in Africa
Barclays Africa Group Limited and the China Development Bank have signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen cooperation and explore cooperation on future infrastructure and development projects across Africa. Read more here.
Egyptian President Al-Sisi published a decree related to Egypt’s status as a founding member of the AIIB. He laid out his vision for the bank’s role in providing funding to hasten economic development in Egypt and provide better employment opportunities for Egyptians. Read more here.
China Around the World
A Completed Project in Belarus
A Chinese-built pulp mill located in Svetlogorsk, Belarus, officially began operation in December 2017. Built by the China Construction Engineering Corporation, the project cost more than 800 million USD. The Export-Import Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China provided 85 percent of funds on export buyer's credit.
Developing the Digital Economy
At the 4th World Internet Conference hosted by China, Xi Jinping and Wang Huning, a Chinese political leader and theorist, proposed five appeals for China. One of China's top appeals stated that China is willing to work with the international community to promote development of the Internet and digital economy, and to implement the APEC Internet and Digital Economy Roadmap. With the One Belt One Road Initiative as focus, China will strengthen their cooperation in the digital economy.