CEI/EBRD Conference: Supporting Local Enterprises and SMEs along China’s Belt and Road Initiative in South Eastern Europe, Trieste (Italy)
The international conference “Supporting Local Enterprises and SMEs along China’s Belt and Road Initiative in South Eastern Europe”, taking place on 19 May 2016 at the Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi in Trieste, is organised by the Central European Initiative (CEI) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) under the patronage of the Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri, with the support of the Autonomous Region Friuli Venezia Giulia and the Municipality of Trieste, with a contribution from the Fondazione CRTrieste and from Intesa Sanpaolo as main sponsor and Rizzani De Eccher as sponsor.
The aim of the conference is to provide a high-level platform for the relevant parties, both public and private, to discuss the investment plans for the South Eastern European (SEE) route of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, looking in particular at the opportunities these investments will create for local enterprises and SMEs and how these local enterprises can be supported.
The conference will be divided into two parts. The morning plenary sessions will focus on infrastructure plans in the SEE region and on examining the potential impact of the Belt and Road infrastructure corridor on domestic economies in the region. In the afternoon, there will be two parallel business panels to choose from, dedicated to supporting local enterprises and SMEs through boosting competitiveness and improving access to finance within the context of existing and future infrastructure investment plans in the SEE region.
Senior participation is expected from key stakeholders including the European Commission, Chinese official authorities and investors, high-level representatives of South Eastern European governments and the private sector, as well as the relevant International Financial Institutions.
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The Government of China has recently focused on a comprehensive investment programme to strengthen the logistical infrastructure for moving goods and services from China to Europe, the BRI (formerly the Silk Road or One Belt, One Road Initiative). The plan is for a comprehensive, multimodal infrastructure corridor that will span from mainland China across central Asia to Europe, including road, railway, and ports infrastructure. The purpose of the proposed corridor is to substantially increase the trade opportunities along the countries on its route. The investment plans also include pipelines to transport gas and oil as well as ITC infrastructure to ensure connectivity across the infrastructure corridor.
Advanced plans are being made along the SEE route of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). A number of Chinese institutions and multilateral institutions are engaged in the funding of the BRI including: the Silk Road Fund, China Development Bank, China Exim Bank, CITIC Group, the BRICS New Development Bank and AIIB. The World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the EBRD will also play a key role. Some investments are already taking place, with an estimated $100 billion invested by China in BRI projects so far (from Pakistan, to Central Asia and SEE) and investments of $1 trillion planned over the next ten years.
The southern arm of the BRI Road is expected to be routed through South Eastern Europe, both in its maritime as well as – eventually – in its terrestrial route. This branch of the logistical corridor will link the Asian part of the route into Europe. Chinese investment in the region has already started and, over the next few years, it has the potential to increase significantly in light of the BRI project.
At this stage, these plans, and in particular the route through the Western Balkans, are still to be fully developed. The exact route of the corridor, its modal components (rail, road, maritime routes, etc.), the level and typology of investment, are still to be defined.