WA China Watch Digest Special!

Survey: Should Washington state companies participate in China's One Belt, One Road initiative?

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By Wen Liu   May 23, 2017

Chinese president Xi Jinping just hosted the inaugural Belt Road Forum in Beijing from May 14-15 and pledged $100 billion for infrastructure projects across Asia, Europe and Africa. Thirty heads of state and world leaders along with 1,200 individuals from 110 countries attended the gathering. As Commerce Department stated in the Initial Results of the 100-Day Action Plan of the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue that “The United States recognizes the importance of China’s One Belt and One Road initiative,” President Trump sent Matthew Pottinger, the administration’s senior director for Asia at the National Security Council, to the event. Considering that the U.S. was reluctant to become partner in an earlier China initiative, AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank), here is the question:

Do you think American companies, especially Washington state companies, should participate in the One Belt, One Road initiative, and why?

Here are some responses from our China hands and watchers in the order they were received. You are welcome to add yours in Disqus.

John Raymer, fiberglass industry expert, in manufacturing, sales and marketing, with China business experience:
I support infrastructure investment with public government funding since there is usually a long-term payback through economic growth. The U.S. has a long history, however, of bringing in private corporations with U.S. backing who place other countries in a bad position with loans and equity deals that are impossible to pay back. There is also a lot of corruption on both sides that can go along with this. In some cases this system will destroy the credit of the poor countries to the point that they can't get more funding for decades. When done correctly investment can help build a new and stronger economy as it did in Japan and Germany.

George Koo, int'l business consultant; board member, New America Media; member, Committee of 100:
No cost to want in and everything to gain on project by project basis if comparative advantages are on the side of the U.S. companies. If not, watch and learn for the next project.

Bob Anderson, founding president, Washington State China Relations Council; long-time trade consultant to Snohomish County:
Yes---It enhances our trade relationships.

Bill Anderson, secretary, Seattle Economics Council; former exec. dir., Computational Finance & Risk Management, UW:
I believe it is appropriate for Washington state companies to participate as economic actors in the One Belt One Road initiative to the degree possible. That said, I am not convinced that there will be much opportunity for Washington state companies if project funding and selection is determined or significantly influenced by the AIIB. What is more likely is that contractors in the various OBOR projects will likely be selected from either companies who are headquartered in member countries composing the AIIB or the contractors whose domicile is the home country in which the OBOR projects are being conducted.

(For more information on major events in Washington state-China relations, go to WA China Chronicle.)