Biden pushes Belt and Road rival ‘Blue Dot’ with Japan and Australia

Escalators connect floors in Grand Central Terminal as part of the East Side Access, a train tunnel that will connect rail yards in Queens with Grand Central in New York. © AP

NIKKEI ASIA – June 9, 2021 03:13 JST – ALEX FANG, Nikkei staff writer

Michelin star-like certification to cheer transparent and sustainable infrastructure

NEW YORK — U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, along with the governments of Japan and Australia, is reviving an infrastructure initiative that would provide emerging markets an alternative to China’s Belt and Road initiative.

After a prolonged period of inactivity, the Blue Dot Network — first announced during President Donald Trump’s administration — kicked off talks among stakeholders in Paris on Monday. The meeting and the launch of an executive consultation group was convened by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and funded by Washington and Canberra.

The initiative, which would certify projects meeting such standards as transparency and sustainability, is meant to galvanize the private sector to invest in infrastructure development in emerging markets. This approach has been hailed as a counter to the Belt and Road, which is characterized by heavy central planning from Beijing.

“The Blue Dot Network will be a globally recognized symbol of market-driven, transparent and sustainable infrastructure projects,” the U.S. State Department said in a Monday statement, welcoming the consultation group’s inaugural meeting.

Over 150 global executives, covering 96 countries, responsible for some $12 trillion of assets under management, participated in the Monday meeting, the OECD said in a statement. Panels at the event included those occupying key posts at financial institutions including Citi and JPMorgan, as well as in the public sector, such as Thailand’s Government Pension Fund.

Derek Grossman, senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation, said Australia, Japan, and the U.S. “cannot possibly match China’s BRI dollar-for-dollar,” which explains why the initiative focuses on certification and advisory instead of direct funding.

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