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US forms Belt, Road group

By Zhao Huanxin in Washington | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-16 10:34

The United States has formed a working group to ramp up its companies' participation in the Belt and Road projects, a top official in the Trump administration said at a two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing that wrapped up on Monday.

Matthew Pottinger, special assistant to US President Donald Trump, led a delegation to attend the forum.

He said the US encourages all participants to work toward the infrastructure goals of the Belt and Road Initiative, and US companies are ready to participate in Belt and Road projects.

"US firms have a long and successful track record in global infrastructure development, and are ready to participate in Belt and Road projects," Pottinger, who is also the senior director for Asia at the National Security Council, said at a forum infrastructure session on Sunday.

"The American Belt and Road Working Group, formed as a partnership between the US Embassy in Beijing and US companies, will serve as one node for collaboration in this area," Pottinger said.

He shared the US' experience in global infrastructure development through both the private sector and multilateral institutions, projects that featured transparency in government procurement, support for institution-building in host countries and inclusivity and broad participation from the private sector.

The Belt and Road Initiative was first envisioned by President Xi Jinping in 2013 to create a new platform for international cooperation.

Xi said at the opening of the forum on Sunday that infrastructure connectivity is the foundation of development through cooperation.

"We should promote land, maritime, air and cyberspace connectivity, concentrate our efforts on key passageways, cities and projects and connect networks of highways, railways and sea ports," he told the forum, which was attended by the leaders of 30 countries.

Xi pledged to pump an extra 100 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) into the existing Silk Road Fund, 380 billion yuan in loans for infrastructure and development projects and 60 billion yuan in aid to developing countries and international bodies in countries along the newly revived trade routes.

Xi also said China will endeavor to build a win-win business partnership with other countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative.

The US companies were no exception.

The New York Times, in an article titled "US Firms Want in on China's Global 'One Belt, One Road' Spending", posted on its website on Sunday, cited General Electric as a winner in this initiative.

In 2014, Chinese construction and engineering companies ordered $400 million worth of equipment from GE to install overseas, overwhelmingly in the region that encompasses the effort known as Belt and Road Initiative, the report said.

It reported that last year, those orders totaled $2.3 billion, and GE plans to bid for an additional $7 billion in orders for natural-gas turbines and other power equipment over roughly the next 18 months.

Tian Deyou, economic and commercial minister-counselor at the Chinese Embassy in the US, last week said that some US think tanks and companies were "negative" to the initiative when it was first raised, but the US companies are gradually changing their attitudes and wanting to aggressively join the projects.

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