Industry Outlook 2018: China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative

- Jan 15, 2018 -

The Chinese government’s One Belt, One Road initiative to build a widespread economic zone is proving to show heightening presence in the global market.

Transactions with neighboring countries covering the railway network have exceeded $3 trillion, with direct investments reaching $50 billion. And although there is deeply rooted caution in China’s attempts here to expand the sphere of her power in exchange for this infrastructure, the expanded cooperation taking place in third-country markets has each nation involved seeing a tremendous appeal.

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Looking at the petroleum and chemical industries, the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation (CPCIF) has launched the Going Global Confederation (GGC) with some 70 major players in petrochemical and engineering. Some main tasks of the GGC include information sharing with countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, providing banking establishment-backed financial assistance and coordination in risk management.

The CPCIF is situating overseas expansion as one of the key strategies for China’s petrochemical industry under the country’s 13th Five-Year Plan. Using the One Belt, One Road initiative as a basis for this, the CPCIF is looking in the Middle East to develop methanol, urea, and methanol-to-olefins (MTO) processes with corporations and governments of such countries as Iran and Oman. In Southeast Asia, meanwhile, the hope is to use natural gas in the development of fertilizer operations.

At the same time, there is also an increasing sense of caution against this growing influence of China, with the country pushing to create its own rules of trade under the One Belt, One Road initiative. There is also China’s use of the military, which is a point of concern when it comes to port maintenance and the like. As one Japanese company executive said, any such cooperation necessitates that there be a global standard of transparency from which to work.