In nod to debt concerns, China Belt and Road summit to urge sustainable financing

Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, has said the Belt and Road project is not a ‘geopolitical tool’. (AFP)
Updated 21 April 2019
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In nod to debt concerns, China Belt and Road summit to urge sustainable financing

  • The Belt and Road Initiative envisions rebuilding the old Silk Road to connect China with Asia, Europe and beyond
  • But the initiative has proved controversial in many Western capitals, particularly Washington

SHANGHAI: World leaders meeting in Beijing this week for a summit on China’s Belt and Road initiative will agree to project financing that respects global debt goals and promotes green growth, according to a draft communique seen by Reuters.
The Belt and Road Initiative is a key policy of President Xi Jinping and envisions rebuilding the old Silk Road to connect China with Asia, Europe and beyond with massive infrastructure spending.
But it has proved controversial in many Western capitals, particularly Washington, which views it as merely a means to spread Chinese influence abroad and saddle countries with unsustainable debt through nontransparent projects.
The United States has been particularly critical of Italy’s decision to sign up to the plan last month, the first for a G7 nation.
In an apparent nod to these concerns, the communique reiterates promises reached at the last summit in 2017 for sustainable financing — but adds a line on debt, which was not included the last time.
“We support collaboration among national and international financial institutions to provide diversified and sustainable financial supports for projects,” the draft communique reads.
“We encourage local currency financing, mutual establishment of financial institutions, and a greater role of development finance in line with respective national priorities, laws, regulations and international commitments, and the agreed principles by the UNGA on debt sustainability,” it added, referring to the United Nations General Assembly.
The word “green” appears in the draft seven times. It was not mentioned once in the summit communique from two years ago.
“We underline the importance of promoting green development,” the draft reads. “We encourage the development of green finance including the issuance of green bonds as well as development of green technology.”
The Chinese government’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, said on Friday that the Belt and Road project is not a “geopolitical tool” or a debt crisis for participating nations, but Beijing welcomes constructive suggestions on how to address concerns over the initiative.
A total of 37 foreign leaders are due to attend the April 25-27 summit, though the United States is only sending lower-level representatives, reflecting its unease over the scheme.
The number of foreign leaders at the April 25-27 summit is up from 29 last time, mainly from China’s closest allies like Pakistan and Russia but also Italy, Switzerland and Austria.
China has repeatedly said Belt and Road is for the benefit of the whole world, and that it is committed to upholding globally accepted norms in ensuring projects are transparent and win-win for all parties.
“We emphasize the importance of the rule of law and equal opportunities for all,” the draft reads.


Saudi Aramco signs US LNG deal with Sempra

Aramco, the Saudi state oil giant plans to become a major global gas player while the US market is undergoing a shale boom. (File/AP)
Updated 23 min 11 sec ago
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Saudi Aramco signs US LNG deal with Sempra

  • Aramco has been developing its own gas resources
  • The proposed Port Arthur LNG Phase 1 project is expected to include two liquefaction trains

DUBAI: Saudi Aramco has entered into a 20-year agreement with US-based Sempra Energy to purchase liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its subsidiary Sempra LNG, the two companies said on Wednesday.
The Saudi state oil giant plans to become a major global gas player while the US market is undergoing a shale boom.
Aramco has been developing its own gas resources and eyeing gas assets in the United States, Russia, Australia and Africa.
The two companies are also finalizing a 25 percent equity investment in the phase 1 of Port Arthur LNG, they said in a joint statement.
The sale-and-purchase agreement is for 5 million tons per annum (mtpa) of LNG from phase 1 of the Port Arthur LNG export project under development, the firms said.
The proposed Port Arthur LNG Phase 1 project is expected to include two liquefaction trains, up to three LNG storage tanks and associated facilities which should enable the export of about 11 mtpa on a long-term basis.
“Port Arthur LNG could be one of the largest LNG export projects in North America, with potential expansion capabilities of up to eight liquefaction trains or approximately 45 mtpa of capacity,” the statement said.
Aramco’s trading arm sold its first LNG cargo on the spot market in late March to an Indian buyer, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Aramco plans to boost its gas production to 23 billion standard cubic feet (scf) a day from about 14 billion scf now.