Behind Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) what is the idea?

Prime Minister Imran Khan in a Group Photo with the Leaders of Participating Countries at the Leaders Roundtable Session of 2nd Belt and Road Forum in International Convention Center, Yanqi Lake China on April 27, 2019

About Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

I had been a member of Pakistan business delegates during 26 April to 28 April 2019 in China organize Belt and Road Forum at Beijing. The Belt and Road Initiative is a grand strategy to manage global deficits, platform for international cooperation and an internationally acclaimed and public good.

Countries heads, diplomats and politicians from Pakistan, Russia, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hungary, Vietnam, United Arab Emirates, Belarus, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Cyprus, Uzbekistan, The Philippines, Kenya. Serbia, Egypt, Papua New Guinea, United States, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Cuba, Austria and list goes on..

Twenty-nine international organizations and 126 countries, including developed and developing nations, have signed 174 cooperation documents with China on the BRI. From 2013 it has been transformed from an ambitious plan into concrete results. The trade volume between China and countries and regions participating in the BRI has excesses $6 trillion, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top macro-economic regulator.

FDI in the countries along the Belt and Road has increased. According to Ministry of Commerce (china) data, from 2013 to 2018 Chinese enterprises invested more then $ 90 billion in countries along with the BRI at average annual growth rate of 5.2 percent. The investments in BRI projects have not only boosted global investment, but also created more growth.

According to a world Bank research report, the transportation projects under the initiative’s framework, once completed, will reduce the shipment time and trade costs for BRI between 1.7 percent and 3.2 percent, and 1.5 and 2.8 percent. The initiative will also help increase actual income growth in local areas by 1.2 to 3.4 percent and global income growth by 0.7 to 2.9 percent.

Just three days, more than $64 billion in deals were signed at second Belt and Road Forum, parties reached 283 pragmatic outcomes, including intergovernmental cooperation agreements, cooperative projects and the launch of multilateral cooperation platforms. That show Belt and Road conforms to the trend of the times, wining the hearts of the people, improving livelihood and benefiting the whole world.

(Reference from The author is the founder of the centre for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based non-governmental think thank. CHINA Daily )

CHINA President point of view:-

President China Mr. Xi said BRI is an initiative for economic cooperation, rather than a geopolitical alliance or military league. It is an open and inclusive process rather than an exclusive bloc to differentiate countries by ideology or play a zero-sum game. Belt and Road construction should pursue higher-quality development. This requires more efforts to properly address key issues, such as major projects, financial sup-port, investment environment, security and risk management with focus on infrastructure construction and production capacity cooperation.

The results from the BRI open up more space for global economic growth build a platform for international cooperation and make new contributions to the building of community with a shared future for mankind.

BRI cooperation projects will be market-based. To ensure sustainable development, the leaders agreed to promote a level playing field for business communities and create a                                non-discriminatory business environment.    

Countries Leader point of view:-

Serbia: President Aleksandar Vucic said firmly supports and proactively takes part in Belt and Road cooperation and the major cooperation projects including a Chinese-invested steel plant and has greatly promoted the economic development id Serbia.

United Arab Emirates: Vice-President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum said the visit by Mr. Xi last year was a huge success and provided a boost for the development of bilateral ties.

Indonesia: Vice President Jusuf Kalla said his country stands ready to strengthen exchanges and cooperation in trade. Investment and education, and promote cooperation in Indonesia regional comprehensive economic corridors. 

Malaysia: Prime Minsiter Mahathir Mohammad said Malaysia will move China ties to a higher level. The BRI not only helps solve problems of infrastructure connectivity, but also helps address unbalance development, the initiative is conducive to promoting dialogue between different culture, and eliminating such problems as conflicts, extremism and terrorism.

Belarus: President Alexander Lukashenko said Belarus trusts China wholeheartedly and will remain a trustworthy friend of China and hopes the China-Belarus industrial park will be helpful in promoting the joint building of Belt and Road in the Eurasian region.

Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta said the Belt and Road has enabled different countries to establish even closer trade connections and partnerships, and it has been widely recognized by the international community. It has also helped promote the connectivity and industrialization process of Africa countries.

Egypt: President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said The first Arab country to have established diplomatic ties with China hopes to align closely its development plans with the BRI and is committed to deepening Africa-China cooperation. Egypt highly commends china for upholding justice in the Middle East issue and hopes China continues to play a constructive role.

BRI 2 – Key features announced:-

Zones Developments:

China plans to further advance the building of economic and trade cooperation zones in countries and regions related to the Belt and Road Initiative.  The country will set up new zones in Pakistan (Haier-Ruba Economic Zone) Africa (China-Egypt Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone), China-Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), Southeast Asia, South Asia, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

China Railway Express (CRE) :

The train, branded under the “China Railway Express (Changdu)” banner, passed through Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, and entered China through the Alashankou port in Xinjing Uygur autonomous region. CRE has linked 25 overseas cities and 14 Chinese cities. It has seven international railway channels and 5 international rail-sea combined channels to further open up city. Chengdu geographical advantages and key role in future.

Air Silk Road:

Transport hub in Central China, Henan province is taking advantage of its location to further develop air transportation. Over the past few years Luxembourg and Henan have maintained robust development in trade and have established a long-term partnership with construction of the Air Silk Road. Henan should deepen cooperation with Luxembourg and other European countries. That will bolster its transportation advantage in fields including expanding its network of routes, cultivating special industries and exchanging economic and cultural experience, which will be helpful to construct the Air Silk Road and participate in the BRI.

Green Belt and Road Initiative:

Chinese green bond market became the second largest in the world – after the united Sates- with the issuance of $ 30 billion. China has accumulated experience in mixing policy and finance for green transport and developed leading green mobility technologies, particularly in electric vehicles mobility. These experiences, for example from Shenzhen that financed and now operates 17,000 electric buses and 4,600 electric taxies, or from China Railway Corporation that invested in the construction and operation of the 29,000 kilometre high speed rail network can be useful for greening the BRI.

Who Lead by Banking Initiative:

The initiative is aimed at boosting global growth, it should have a more inclusive definition. Belt and Road International Development Plan to emphasize  its overarching economic goal and remove doubts that China is using it as a tool to expend its influence across the world, there is a need to strengthen cooperation between China and international organizations under the Belt and Road framework, in order to enhance overall multilateral cooperation. For instance, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank model could be used to better collaborate with World Bank, Asian Development Bank, African Development, Inter- American Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other regional and international banks and to provide loans for Belt and Road projects.

Global Scientific Cooperation:

China’s scientific out reach, the nation will need stronger government planning and support, as well as better management and services to over come cultural and legal barriers.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences launched the Alliance of International Science Organizations, the first organization created to connect the scientific communities of participants in the BRI with the goal of improving scientific cooperation, sharing knowledge and promoting sustainable development. The first 37 members of the alliance recently published and action plan for 2019-20. They plan establish a prize for contributing to scientific cooperation within the BRI. New scholarship programs, subsidiary groups on specific issues and new joint talent-training programs. 

  • China-Pakistan Joint Research Center on earth Sciences
  • CAS Innovation Cooperation in Bangkok
  • China-Brazil Joint Laboratory for Space Weather
  • South America Center for Astronomy – Chile
  • China-Sri Lanka Joint Center for Education and Research
  • Sino-Africa Joint Research Center – Kenya
  • Southeast Asia Biodiversity Research Institute – Myanmar
  • Kathmandu Center for Research and Education – Nepal
  • Central Asian Center of Drug Discovery and Development – Uzbekistan
  • Research Center for Ecology and environment of Central Asia – Kazakhstan

Chinese artificial intelligence technology demand increased in Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

(Reference  fromCHINA DailyNewspaper)

Pakistan ready to grab this opportunity:

During the BRI – 2, I observed a lot of countries want to be part of this initiative, those who already are a part of this, are trying to transfer advantages to their own community.

We are pioneer partner of this initiative, and a key stake holder as GAWADER and the route that runs in from Pakistan will give access to the rest of the world but somehow, we are near but not ready to getting the true potential of this initiative.

We don’t have a level playing field in any industry, the trade deficit between the two countries is huge and we have to closely be studied and researched to position our industries in China to get maximum benefit. With the trade wars in place, and Pak China relations on full scale, Pakistan has an opportunity to penetrate in many areas.


I really appreciated our businessman who went with the delegation on self-finance and tried to create liaison with Chinese companies and signed MOU’s. More than 19 projects were signed between the two countries. I would like to advise our businessman, to start preparing and do not be part of these delegations if you have not done your homework. It is really important to have a plan. During the discussions I felt a lack of knowledge and direction. Our businessmen are really depending entirely on the government which is not the correct strategy.

Zones Development:

When I look at our zone developmentit really breaks my heart, I cannot estimate how our businessman will survive. Government departments are not aligned with each other and businessmen getting loses.  Currently there are huge gaps with what is being portrayed and the ground realities that exist in the SEZs of Pakistan. At the moment companies are fighting and running from pillar to post to get basic necessities like Energy, tax exemptions, approvals etc. Second most interesting factor is the basic objective of the SEZs is to attract foreign investment like many developed countries have done in their economic infancy days. Currently SEZs are opening throughout the South Asian region, many developing countries are opting for this model. Their economic indicators are much better than ours then how will the government be able to attract and fill its economic zones? We need to upgrade our Ease of Doing Business Index. This will also help and create an environment of trust for our domestic direct investment to start investing.


After 14 years we have a chance to update our railway systems, new routes, and increase efficiency. This Is a basic pillar for development of country to save time from port to plant and it ismoreeconomically to transfer the cargo. The Railway network and system has played a vital role in the development of many nations. Our Ministers signed M1 project and start study M2 during this time hope results will come positively. 

Air Link Development:

Last 10 years we have not developed any remarkable international airport.  Pakistan really needs to step up the process of opening airports in remote regions where economic activity needs to be diverted. This is a huge step what is the plan of the government to make it successful.

Green Belt Development :

Our government has done a good job and we must appreciate the million trees to make. We need to do more onECO City developments. All of our environment protection laws and organizations need to be reactivated to ensure that the future is safe for our children.  Our policies and practices need to reflect environmentally friendly.

Our Banks:

I have experienced to meet our bankers at Beijing, I was totally shocked they are not aggressively working to be strong partner of BRI projects to facilitate our Large &SME businessman,  I would suggest to start the B2B from the finance industry.  But it doesn’t mean  perception will be same here B2B means Bankers and Businessman to select as best projects and involves as a nation, to build and Road Projects for peoples of  Pakistan .

Sciences and Technology:

I am also surprised BRI doing scholarship but from our sides who get these benefits and what outcomes for the nation I lack to understand and see. We should start thinking out of the BOX and we need Mr. Atta ur Rehmans  to come back on the team and this time we will need taking initiatives from the infant stages of education.


The government needs to Plan, take action and keep a strong follow up on all activities, it will have to take the business community on board, invite technocrats and get this ball rolling. We need to set goals and start the hard work to achieve them. It is a long dark road with a ray of hope along the way but a prosperous  and

One nation and one goal to build our self for the world to provide best serving services, industry, trades, communication and IT. 

By Mashood Khan / Director Export / Mehran Commercial Enterprises