In less than a month's time, President Xi Jinping will host the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation - his landmark program to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects across Asia, Africa and Europe. The vision of the Belt and Road Initiative (the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road) projects is essentially about connectivity - facilitated by infrastructure.
If by working together, different countries' respective comparative advantages can be exploited - be it capital, technological know-how, logistical or construction capabilities, raw materials, or even China's industrial goods - infrastructure can be built efficiently and cheaply. This cooperative approach can spearhead development in low-income countries, and lift emerging economies out of the middle-income trap.
But investing in infrastructure is difficult. It requires large amounts of funding, and carries non-trivial political, sovereign and financial risk. Many governments are trying to solve this problem by improving their state governance, maintain policy continuity and provide an enabling environment for investment in infrastructure. They make a big push to promote public-private partnership, but successes are far and few between.