Belt and Road Forum Ends

Yang Odell and Kostner – Chinese President Xi did not promise new money to pay for China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and concentrated instead on “co-development” as he gave the keynote speech at the second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in Beijing, watched closely by the team at Yang, Odell and Kostner Asset Management from Tianjin.

Compared with the first BRF in 2017, Xi’s speech was shorter and included fewer firm proposals. Instead, he “seems to have tried more to deflect recent criticism and doubts over the multibillion-dollar project,” opined a representative of China-based Yang, Odell and Kostner.

“Xi’s speech seemed to be directed at addressing the concerns of both the United States and Europe over the BRI, although he did not name them individually,’ according to Yang, Odell and Kostner.

Xi’s speech came shortly after the president Trump announced that the Chinese president would be visiting the White House “soon,” and some areas mentioned in Xi’s speech have been under lengthy negotiation during the trade talks with the United States.

Some of the key points raised in Xi’s speech are:

China will not devalue its currency.

Xi said he would maintain the stability of the Yuan within a reasonable range, but would not start any “beggar-thy-neighbor” currency devaluation, which has been of the criticisms directed at China by the United States.

“China will keep improving the yuan exchange rate mechanism and maintain the yuan exchange rate at a stable, reasonable and balanced level,” he said, adding that China would also strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination with other major economies.

The trade war with the United States was not mentioned directly but still alluded to, noted Yang, Odell and Kostner.

“China treasures its promises and commitments with a thousand taels of gold,” said Xi, referring to accusations that China had not lived up to its reform promises.

Xi said his country does not intentionally aim to have trade surpluses with other trading partners and is prepared to import more foreign agricultural products and services to balance trade.

“China pays high regard to the implementation of bilateral and multilateral economic and trade agreements it has signed with other countries,” Xi said.

Progress on IPP

China will enforce cooperation with the international community on security over intellectual property protection, and end forced technology transfers, protect trademarks and trade secrets, and combat IP theft said Xi.

China is committed to an “open economy.”

China will hold its second import expo later this year in Shanghai, Xi said. This will create a platform for foreign businesses to enter the Chinese market adding that China would reduce tariffs and lower non-tariff barriers more.

“The great rivers and oceans are deep because they are open to all trickles. If inflows of streams and rivers are cut off, even a big sea will dry sooner or later,” Xi said, referring to his opinion that flows of commodities, capital, technology, and people were vital for economic growth.

Xi said China would increase market access, cut negative lists to allow more foreign-controlled and wholly foreign-owned businesses in more business sectors, and embrace regulations to implement foreign investment laws and supply-side structural reform.

The BRI is not just for the Chinese.

Xi said the BRI would benefit “all of its participants” and not only China, saying it is “not an exclusive club,” noting it would serve not only the interests of China but also improve multilateralism.

The BRI aims to improve the connectivity and on-the-ground cooperation of the countries involved and deliver a win-win result along with mutual development, said Xi, reaffirming his fight against protectionism.

The Chinese President also maintained that his country “would support the principles of extensive consultation, joint contributions, and shared benefits, maintaining close communication and coordination” with all nations to work together with openness, inclusiveness, and transparency.

The comments were aimed at “addressing foreign criticism over the level of debt that some countries were taking on to be a part of the BRI, leaving them in a debt trap which only helped to further China’s geopolitical ambitions,” said Yang, Odell and Kostner.

More environmental elements.

Xi also stressed environmental awareness, along with sustainable financing amid mounting incredulity over his central foreign policy and trade strategy, which was welcomed by Yang, Odell and Kostner.

“A platform on green growth will be started,” Xi said, presenting several co-operative mechanisms and projects on financing, technology transfer, poverty reduction, green growth, and other matters.

The US state of California attended the BRF to help in its fight against climate change, despite the US administration’s mistrust over China’s underlying intentions.

The recently appointed Lieutenant Governor of California, Eleni Kounalakis said she was attending the event mainly to “talk about climate change and implore participants to prioritize the issue and consider how the BRI can drive positive action for this global threat.”