April 25, 2018

Belt and Road at a Glance: RWR Advisory

Belt and Road at a Glance
 

Top Developments

EU Ambassadors to China (sans Hungary) Rebuke BRI in Joint Letter
On April 18, Germany’s Handelsblatt reported that 27 of 28 EU ambassadors to China had signed a joint statement criticizing the Belt and Road Initiative.Hungary, a major target of Chinese largesse, was the only EU member-state that did not sign the document. The main criticism expressed by the ambassadors was that BRI “runs counter to the EU agenda for liberalizing trade and pushes the balance of power in favor of subsidized Chinese companies.” While the report was not made public and is not necessarily an expression of policy from the countries involved, it is a significant setback for China’s hope of rallying EU member-state support for its reimagining of the global trading order.Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan: No Military Intent for CPEC
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing sought to allay growing concerns in the country about the strategic risks associated with the BRI-linked China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, telling Voice of America on April 22, “I want to make it very clear, Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, and with CPEC under it, is purely a commercial development project. We don’t have any kind of military or strategic design for that.” He conceded that it was “natural” that such concerns would arise. Yao’s message, however, was muddled by China’s newly-arrived Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe, who told Pakistan’s Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi that China is preparedto provide security guarantees for the Belt and Road project.Battling Forex Crisis, Pakistan Mulls “Panda Bond” Issue
In an effort to stave off a months-long dwindling of foreign exchange stocks and avoid seeking IMF assistance, Islamabad authorities are consideringissuing an RMB-denominated “Panda Bond,” as well as raising dollar-denominated debt targeted at the Pakistani diaspora. The World Bank warned in October that Pakistan needed to raise $17 billion to meet its debt repayment obligations and settle its current account deficit. The strategy further links Pakistan to a China-centric financing strategy. According to the Financial Times, Pakistan quietly borrowed more than $1 billion from Chinese financial institutions last year during a worsening of its current account deficit.China, Nepal Pursue Trans-Himalaya Railway; India Invited to Join
China and Nepal share a “long-term vision” for building a “trans-Himalayan connectivity network,” the two country’s foreign ministers announced in Beijing on April 18. Specifically, Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gwayali said both sides had agreed to joint feasibility studies on a cross-border railway linking the Tibetan city of Gyirong on the Nepal-Tibet border to Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Lumbini. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Nepal and China would invite India to join the project, noting that “support for Nepal’s development should be a common understanding between India and China.” The project is likely to raise questions with regard to the competition for influence in Nepal (between China and India) playing out in the economic and financial domain.China, Finland to Enhance Arctic Research Cooperation
China and Finland have agreed to establish a joint research center for Arctic space observation and data sharing services, the China Academy of Sciences announced on April 18. The agreement states that the center will be built in Sodanklya, Lapland. This announcement follows the 2016 construction of the China Remote Sensing Satellite North Polar Ground Station, located inSweden. China has been seeking greater overall involvement in Scandinavia alongside its efforts to gain a seat at the table internationally on matters related to the Arctic.CCCC To Build Tunnel Complex at Colombo, Sri Lanka
China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) will invest $800 million to build a road tunnel network serving Sri Lanka’s Port City, a reclamation project in the country’s capital, Colombo. The government of Sri Lanka is preparing tax incentives to help meet its goal of $15 billion in investment in the project over the next 30 years. The Colombo Port City project is contractedto CCCC subsidiary China Harbor Engineering Company, which also worked on the controversial port construction project at Hambantota.Three Chinese Mining Companies Banned in Cameroon
The warmth generated by Cameroonian President Paul Biya’s recent visit to Beijing suffered a setback on April 21, when the country’s Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Technological Development announced that three Chinese companies (Hong Kong Mining, Peace Mining, and Lu & Lang) were ordered to cease operations and leave East Cameroon due to allegations linking them to local deaths and operating without the necessary licenses. While none of the companies involved rank among China’s top mining companies, the development is still remarkable as the announcement came just one month after a series of major investment announcements, including China canceling part of Cameroon’s debt.

Data from IntelTrak, April 10 - 24

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What They're Saying

MAHATHIR MOHAMED, FORMER MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER
Interview with the Associated Press

"We feel that we will stop borrowing. We will try to renegotiate the terms of the borrowing. In the case of projects, we may have to study whether we would continue or we would slow down or we would renegotiate the terms."

WANG YI (王毅), CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER
Speaking with Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawala Asif

"Our iron friendship with Pakistan will never rust or be tempered into steel."

CHRISTINE LAGARDE, MANAGING DIRECTOR
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF)
Speaking at the China-IMF Capacity Development Center launch

"The first challenge is ensuring that Belt and Road only travels where it is needed. With any large-scale spending there is sometimes the temptation to take advantage of the project selection and bidding process. Experiences from across the globe show that there is always a risk of potentially failed projects and the misuse of funds. "

JIA GUIDE (贾桂德), CHINESE AMBASSADOR TO PERU
Interview ahead of the Summit of the Americas

"If China doesn’t import goods from the United States, it’s going to import them from other countries...in that sense the disputes between China and the United States could bring opportunities."

GABRIEL YADJI, REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE
CAMEROON'S MINISTRY OF MINES, INDUSTRY, AND TECH DEVELOPMENT

"It is easy to vent anger against the Chinese, but who brought them in? It is Cameroonians that have led them to behave like they do."


By the Numbers

Data from RWR's IntelTrak tool

Data from RWR's IntelTrak tool

Domestic Developments

Policy Guidance

April 18: The State Council unveiled the new State International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDCA), two weeks after Wang Xiaotao was announced as the agency’s head. Wang, former Deputy Director of the National Development and Reform Commission, has a strong background in foreign capital, overseas investment, and trade negotiations within the Belt and Road framework. SIDCA will take on the foreign aid responsibilities of China’s Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and play a significant role in furthering the Belt and Road Initiative in developing countries.

Public Engagement

April 12: The People’s Bank of China and International Monetary Fundlaunched the Beijing-based China-IMF Capacity Development Center (CICDC), which will support officials from China and other Belt and Road countries in policy-making, personnel training, and institution-building. CICDC is one of several regional IMF capacity development centers.April 12: The United Nations Development Program’s 2018 High-Level Policy Forum on Global Governance took place in Guangzhou. The China Center for International Economic Exchanges co-hosted the forum, with support from China’s National Development and Reform Commission. This year’s forum was themed “Belt and Road Finance and Investment” and convened senior representatives from international financial institutions, the private sector, development agencies, and governments.April 23: The “China-South Africa Investment Seminar” was held in Beijing, sponsored by the China-Africa Development Fund. Attendees included representatives from Sinopec, Datang Group, Bank of China, Sany Heavy Industry, and China Construction Bank. The Fund plans to expand its role to increase investment in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors as well as promote advanced Chinese production capacity in African countries through the Belt and Road Initiative.

Regional Developments

East Asia and the Pacific

April 1o: China and Mongolia signed a series of agreements and memoranda of understandings during a recent state visit: China’s Ministry of Commerce and Mongolia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed a memorandum of understanding on accelerating negotiations on establishing an intergovernmental agreement on developing bordering regions. The Export-Import Bank of China and Mongolia’s Ministry of Finance signed a loan agreement for financing the Erdenet thermal power plant modernization project. China’s National Markets Supervision Management Bureau signed a memorandum of understanding with Mongolia’s Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Light Industry on small-and-medium enterprise cooperation. Mongolia’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sciences, and Sports signed an agreement on educational exchange and cooperation with China’s Ministry of Education, and a memorandum of understanding with China's State General Administration of Sports on sports cooperation. The two governments also agreed to strengthen production capacity, build a new wastewater treatment plant in Ulaanbaatar, and for China to provide Mongolia with about $315 million in aid.April 18: China’s Ministry of Commerce and Mongolia’s Ministry of Environment, Green Development, and Tourism signed an agreement to implement a three-year project to save Mongolia’s critically endangered Gobi (Mazaalai) bear. The project will be funded by a $17.5 million donation from the Chinese government. The bears reside in Mongolia’s Great Gobi conservation area, which is their only habitat in the world.April 17: PowerChina Resources acquired an 80% stake in the development of Tasmania’s 150MW Cattle Hill Wind Farm. The seller, Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology subsidiary Goldwind Capital Australia, will retain 20% of the project. Renewable electricity generated by the wind farm will bepurchased by government electricity retailer Aurora Energy under a long-term contract.April 20: The New Zealand-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Seminarhosted by the Oceania Silk Road Network (OSRN) was held in Auckland, New Zealand with current and former politicians in attendance. OSRN was established under the Belt and Road Initiative to connect China and New Zealand’s government institutions, think tanks, industrial associations, and other bilateral actors.

Southeast Asia

April 12: China-Singapore (Chongqing) Strategic Connectivity Logistic Development and China-Singapore (Chongqing) Multimodal Transport & Logistic Development signed a joint venture and cooperation agreement todevelop the China-Singapore connectivity project’s South Passage. Chongqing’s southwestern location and manufacturing industry position the city as a potentially crucial hub for Belt and Road activity. South Passage seeks to reconfigure existing regional logistics patterns, connecting Chongqing through Singapore to the rest of Southeast Asia — and eventually South Asia, the Middle East, and other regions. The multimodal project will feature railways, highways, waterways, and air transport.April 13: Chinese companies signed a series of infrastructure agreements withIndonesia’s North Kalimantan province, valued at a speculative $39 billion: China Gezhouba Group International Engineering plans to build a $10 billion hydroelectric power plant in Sungai Kayan with Indonesia Dafeng Heshun Energy Industry, and a $10 billion industrial area in Bulungan with Adhidaya Suprakencana. East China Engineering Science and Technology plans to build a $700 million coal-to-dimethyl ether (DME) facility in Tanah Kuning with Dragon Land. Sinohydro Corporation will form a joint venture with Kayan Hydro Energy to build a $17 billion hydropower plant in Bulungan. Metallurgical Corporation of China plans to develop a $1.2 billion steel smelter with Prime Steel Indonesia. The countries also signed memoranda of understandings on developing the Tanah Kuning Mangkupadi Industrial Park in North Kalimantan and cooperating on electric vehicles. All speculative values are subject to change.April 15: Expanding on the series of bilateral agreements signed on the sidelines of the Boao Forum, China agreed to provide about $4 million in aid to support agricultural production in the Philippines. The Philippine Ministry of Agriculture will use the capital to upgrade the Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology (PhilSCAT)’s hybrid rice technology research and demonstration center.April 17: The China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences and the Laos Public Health Ministry’s Traditional Medicine Research Institute signed a memorandum of understanding on medicinal plants research cooperation. The two sides will conduct a medicinal resource census in Laos to compile a volume on “Flora of Laos.” There are also plans to jointly establish a traditional medicine research center and hold training on medicinal plant research.April 18: China and Thailand signed several cooperation agreements on Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Special Fund projects. China offered to provide $1.7 million from the fund to support rural e-commerce development, cross-border trade and logistic facility upgrades, and business exchange projects in Thailand.April 23: Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group signed a series of agreements and memoranda with Thai government entities: Alibaba Singapore E-Commerce Ltd. and Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor Office (EECO) signeda memorandum of understanding between on expanding Thai agricultural exports through Alibaba’s platform. Alibaba affiliate Cainiao Smart Logistics Network Hong Kong signed an agreement with EECO and Thailand’s Customs Department to establish a Smart Digital Hub to boost regional and global trade through e-commerce. Cainiao plans to invest about $351 million to develop the Smart Digital Hub, which will also support markets in Cambodia, LaosMyanmar, and Vietnam. Alibaba Business School signed a memorandum of understanding with Thailand’s Department of Industrial Promotion (DIP) and Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) on developing digital training programs for Thai entrepreneurs. Alibaba subsidiary Zhejiang Fliggy Network Technology Company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) on promoting Thai tourism in secondary Chinese provinces, using Alibaba’s digital platforms for marketing and travel logistics.April 23: China’s Guangxi Beibu Gulf International Port Group andCambodia’s Try Pheap Group signed a cooperation agreement to conduct a feasibility study on constructing a deep-sea port in Kampot province. The proposed port would be able to accomodate large-scale vessels carrying up to 30,000 tons of cargo, nearly double the capacity of Cambodia’s existingSihanoukville deep-sea port.

South Asia

April 11: China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) plans to invest $800 million to build an underground road network to the Colombo Port City development in Sri Lanka, which is currently under construction by CCCC subsidiary China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC). The proposed underground network would reduce overland traffic once the development is completed.March 30: Bank of China (BoC) opened its first branch in Sri Lanka, in the capital city of Colombo. The bank will help expand Sri Lanka’s ties with overseas manufacturers as part of international supply chains.March 31: The Export-Import Bank of China will provide $147.9 million andSri Lanka’s People’s Bank will provide the remaining $26.1 million to financeconstruction of Sri Lanka’s Thalapitigala hydropower reservoir. Sinohydro Corporation has been contracted to build the 15MW reservoir.April 2: China’s GCL System Integration Technology and Japan’s Softbank Investment signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a joint venture company in Andhra Pradesh, India to produce and sell solar module components. The joint venture is seeking funding up to $930 million.April 4: China announced plans to develop a 750-acre industrial park inBangladesh’s port city of Chittagong, primarily for Chinese manufacturing use. China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) will develop the park through a joint venture with the Bangladesh Special Economic Zone Authority (BSEZA).April 6: Pakistan delayed signing the second phase of its free trade agreement with China at the last minute due to reservations about Beijing’s list of concessions. The first phase of the agreement had given China duty concessions that led to an influx of Chinese goods and hurt local industries. The Faisalabad textile business community, in particular, has expressed concerns about further concessions in the new phase. A joint meeting of the National Assembly standing committees on finance and commerce will take place in the near future.

Middle East and North Africa

April 10: The China-Arab Beidou Center was inaugurated in Tunis, Tunisia by China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) and the Arab League’s Arab Information and Communication Technology Organization (AICTO) based in Tunisia. The center will showcase and promote China’s Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), as well as provide joint satellite navigation research opportunities.April 10: Chinese clean energy company TBEA Sunoasis launched constructionof four solar power stations at the Benban Solar Energy Park in Aswan, Egypt. The stations will have an output of 186MW upon completion. Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) contributed partial financing to the $180 million project.April 14: Shanghai Electric Group signed an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) to build a 700MW concentrated solar power (CSP) project in Dubai, UAE as the fourth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. Shanghai Electric is the main contractor in a consortium including Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power and China’s Silk Road Fund. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) will act as the mandated lead arranger for loan financing, which Bank of China (BoC) and Agricultural Bank of China will also be involved in.April 19: Huawei Technologies Investment signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) to develop the country’s information and communication technology (ICT) talent by providing training opportunities for Saudi youths and establishing an innovation center for technology entrepreneurship.April 21: The Chinese Enterprises Association in Israel (CEAI) was establishedin Tel Aviv to promote bilateral economic and trade ties. Earlier this month, Beijing-based ZhongGuanCun Science Park (Z-Park) announced plans to open a liaison office in Tel Aviv to facilitate Chinese business operations in Israel and attract local tech talent to China.April 23: The Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) to develop an international Belt and Road Exchange primarily serving the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. The exchanges haven’t specified the types of instruments that will be traded on the new exchange.April 23: Iran’s National Petrochemical Company signed a memorandum of understanding with China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation (CPCIF) on building a petrochemical park in Iran. CPCIF is an organization comprised of various Chinese companies, institutes, and and associations in the petrochemical industry.

Sub-Saharan Africa

April 11: The Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography (XIEG) received government approval to provide technical supportfor the African Union’s Great Green Wall initiative. XIEG will work specifically with MauritaniaNigeria, and Ethiopia to conduct environmental adaptability assessments and provide desertification prevention technologies in efforts to reverse desertification in the Sahel region.April 16: A Chinese medical team arrived at the Butha-Buthe Hospital inLesotho’s northern Butha-Buthe district for a week-long visit, coordinated by Lesotho’s Ministry of Health and China’s Ministry of Commerce. The team held academic lectures, paid ward visits, and donated medicine and equipment.April 16: The Nigerian branches of China Overseas Construction Group, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, PowerChina, China Gezhouba Group, Huawei Technologies, and China Harbour Engineering Companydonated office equipment to the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations. The donation was made in acknowledgment of China’s role in Nigeria’s economic development.April 17: The Chinese Embassy in Cairo and the General Authority for the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) hosted the two-day China-Africa Special Economic Zone Cooperation Forum in Cairo, Egypt. Delegations from six African countries were in attendance.April 17: China donated $760,000 worth of information and communication technology (ICT) equipment and office furniture to Malawi’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Tourism. The donation is intended to facilitate Malawi’s industrialization process, which hundreds of Chinese companies are currently involved in, through projects like the Sogecoa Business Park, Blantyre Golden Peacock Hotel, and China-Malawi Cotton Company textile factory in Salima.April 18: Standard Chartered Bank held a “Belt and Road” themed customer appreciation event in Gaborone, Botswana with Chinese Embassy officials and Standard Chartered UK executives in attendance.April 20: A delegation from the China Institute for Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) arrived in Rusororo, Rwanda for a three-dayvisit with the governing Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF-Inkotanyi). The Chinese Communist Party and RPF have had a relationship for two decades. During the visit, the two sides seek to exchange ideas on governance and political mass mobilization, and prepare for the upcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in Beijing.April 20: China Aerospace Construction Group was awarded a construction contract by Kenya Urban Roads Authority for the first phase of the Kangundo Road and Eastern Bypass-Outer Ring Road upgrading project in eastern Nairobi. The company is currently also under contract to dredge and build the Kosachei dam in Eldoret, western Kenya.April 21: Cameroon’s Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Technological Development (MINMIDT) announced the ban of three Chinese companies from mining in East Cameroon, where they primarily operate in the gold-rich Bétaré Oya district. The companies, Peace Mining Corporation, Hong Kong Mining, and Lu & Lang, were found to be noncompliant with contractual terms. All three have allegedly contributed to environmental degradation and agricultural damage. Two had been mining without government authorization and the third has been tied to multiple local deaths. MINMIDT ordered the companies to halt operations earlier this month after conducting mining site raids.

Russia and Eurasia

April 10: Uzbekistan published its Priority Directions for the Development of Foreign Policy and External Economic Cooperation, which indicated the country’s intention to build the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway and implement the Belt and Road Initiative through industrial park construction and infrastructure modernization. The China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway was conceived in the 1990s, but has been stalled for various economic and geopolitical reasons.April 10: Huawei Technologies launched OpenLab Moscow, a showroom and research facility intended for joint technology development and testing. This is the tenth OpenLab facility that Huawei has established overseas, and will specifically focus on the finance, transportation, energy, oil and gas, and public safety sectors. Huawei is currently working with 51 Russiancompanies, and will offer remote facility access to partners through its Lab-as-a-Service model.April 17: The Astana International Finance Center (AIFC) signed several memoranda of cooperation with Chinese financial service providers, including Shenwan Hongyuan Group, Haitong Securities, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and CITIC Securities. Kazakhstan-based AIFCseeks to become a financial hub for Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and western China.April 19: The China-Russia Biopharmaceutical Technology Transfer and Innovation Center in Shanghai was unveiled on the opening day of the third annual "Belt and Road" China-Russian Forum on Science and Technology Cooperation. The center will provide technology transfer services and introduce new cooperation projects between China and Russia.April 20: The first meeting of the Sino-Tajik Cooperation Committee was held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan to discuss scientific and technological cooperation. The Tajik Academy of Sciences, China's Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Gansu Science and Technology Department co-organized the event in recognition of Tajikistan’s importance as a gateway for the Belt and Road Initiative. The Gansu Academy of Membrane Science and Technology, Institute of Business Technology, and Productivity Promotion Center signed several cooperation agreements with their Tajik counterparts.

Europe

April 10: Bank of Shanghai and Spain’s Banco Santander signed a memorandum of understanding on Belt and Road strategic cooperation, with a specific focus on Europe and Latin America. The banks will jointly providefinancial services to Chinese enterprises investing overseas, including trade finance and corporate loans.April 12: Denmark’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) approved Zhejiang Geely Holding Group’s proposed acquisition of a majority stake in Saxo Bank, a Danish investment bank specializing in online trading. The acquisition still requires several other regulatory approvals, currently pending.April 13: People’s Bank of China and Bank of Albania extended their bilateral local currency swap agreement, originally signed in 2013. Through the agreement, the central banks can access up to $318.5 million in each other’s local currency as needed.April 13: New resident companies signed agreements to establish operations at the China-Belarus Great Stone Industrial Park in Minsk. These include SZAO Aviation Technologies and Systems, a joint venture between Belarus’ National Academy of Sciences (NASB) and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) which plans to develop high-tech products like unmanned aerial vehicles.April 13: The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia held a Serbia-China investment and trade forum in Belgrade, during a delegation visit by China’s Council for Promoting South-South Cooperation. Representatives from Chinese and Serbian businesses were in attendance, seeking cooperation opportunities in sectors including infrastructure, agriculture, and technology.April 15: A delegation of Chinese farmers traveled to Belgium to learn about agricultural sustainability and innovation through an exchange programorganized by China's Ministry of Agriculture and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development. Site visits included the European Commission, BelOrta vegetable and fruit auction, and Belgium’s Research Station for Vegetable Growing. The delegation plans to visit the UK and Estonia in the following weeks.April 16: China’s e-commerce company JD.com announced the launch of its Spanish-language platform, Joybuy.es, at the World Retail Conference inSpain. The platform had begun beta testing the week before, selling primarily Chinese-made goods to Spanish and Latin American customers. JD.com plans to open a local warehouse by the end of the year, to facilitate direct deliveries.April 18: The Chinese Academy of Sciences announced it signed an agreement earlier this month with the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s Space and Earth Observation Center to establish a joint research center for Arctic space observation and data sharing. Specifically, the two sides plan to enhance cooperation on cryosphere research with the use of satellites. The center will be built in Sodankylä, in Finland’s Lapland region as part of China’s Digital Belt and Road Program for environmental monitoring.April 19: A business delegation led by Estonia’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications visited Beijing, where the two sides discussed digital, logistics, and e-commerce cooperation. During the visit, GTS Rail, a subsidiary of Estonian logistics company GTS Express, signed a cooperation agreement with Xi’an International Inland Port Multimodal Transportation to launch a new freight train route from Xi’an to Muuga Harbour, which is Estonia’s largest cargo port. The trains will begin arriving in June.April 23: China’s Heng’an Group signed an agreement to acquire 36.5% ofFinnish pump producer Finnpulp for $14.29 million, with the option of raising its stake to 49%. The two companies will jointly develop a major softwood pulp plant in Kuopio, eastern Finland.

North America

April 13: Several commercial agreements were signed between Chinese and Canadian companies during the Canadian creative industry trade mission visit to China, valued at nearly $125 million. These include agreements for theater tours, concert performances, literacy partnerships, licensing agreements, and film co-production agreements. Many Chinese and Canadian museums also signed collaborative agreements to jointly strengthen China-Canada public dialogue in science, education, technology, and culture.April 20: U.S.-based Citibank signed memoranda of understandings with Bank of China (BoC) and China Merchants Bank to support Belt and Road-related projects and investments. Citi plans to explore ways to cooperate with the Chinese banks in sectors including infrastructure, power and energy, telecommunications, oil and gas, and agriculture. Previously, Citi served as BoC’s sole global coordinator on $10 billion in Belt and Road bond issuances.

Latin American and the Caribbean

April 24: China’s CRRC Qingdao Sifang signed a $278 million contract with the Argentine Ministry of Transport to supply 200 electrical multiple unit (EMU) train cars and related parts for the Roca line in Buenos Aires. The cars will supplement the existing fleet of 42 CRRC EMUs already in service, and facilitate the withdrawal of outdated Toshiba EMUs.

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RWR Advisory Group is a Washington DC-based research and advisory firm that specializes in the risks present at the intersection of global business activity and national security concerns

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