Blue Dot Network, America’s Answer to Belt and Road?

China’s Belt and Road after announcing that the U.S.-led Blue Dot Network is trying to help fill the global infrastructure investment gap and establish a means for market-led sustainable infrastructure projects, the U.S. Secretary of State said. Notified to.

“The BlueDot Network aims to close the global infrastructure investment gap by establishing a globally recognized symbol for market-driven, transparent and sustainable infrastructure projects,” said US Secretary of State. Antony Blinken declared. Said At the OECD conference in Paris.

“When we are in a developing country where others are pushing for an approach to infrastructure projects, foreign companies are importing their own workforce, extracting resources, failing to talk to the community and driving the country into debt. , We are here today. We support another approach. “

This follows the Japan-US-Australia-India Strategic Dialogue between the United States, Japan, India and Australia, which emphasized the defense of the Blue Dot Network.

What is a Blue Dot Network?

The Blue Dot Network (also known as the Network) was announced in 2019 in response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Under the BRI, the CCP government and its state-owned enterprises directly support international projects by providing materials, labor and cash.

However, corruption in procurement by the Chinese administration and allegations of predatory lending have created unproductive assets that have prevented some governments from providing infrastructure loans.

The most famous example is Hambantota Harbor in Sri Lanka, funded under BRI and eventually returned to a Chinese company on a 1999 lease.Many suggest this is an example of China’s debt diplomacy, but others Conflict This feature.

In contrast, networks aim to provide a globally recognized assessment and certification system for infrastructure and development projects.

Led by the United States, Japan and Australia and managed by the OECD, this program provides a framework for assessing proposed development projects against various criteria such as transparency, governance and worker rights. Is expected to help countries avoid debt dependence. , And the value of money.

The OECD argues that the network “supports and attracts investment in quality infrastructure through the establishment of a voluntary, private-sector-focused government-sponsored certification system.”

“The network ensures that projects are built in line with our common commitment to environment and human rights, the rule of law, transparency and market-based principles,” said Matthias Cormann, OECD Secretary-General and former Australian Finance Minister. Provides a common platform for

Financing the program Potential issues

However, network critics have pointed out one major flaw in the program: the lack of direct funding to support it.

It is not possible to obtain reliable figures for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, but the World Bank estimates:pdfAs of 2019, approximately US $ 575 billion had been directly invested in this system by the Chinese administration.

In comparison, the Blue Dot Network does not directly fund the project. Instead, the network aims to mobilize investment from the private sector.

To this end, the OECD launched the Executive Consultation Group in June to provide a high level of guidance to the Blue Dot Network.

The launch was attended by 150 global executives who managed assets of approximately US $ 12 trillion.

Bechtel Group Inc., CEO of Brendan Bechtel, America’s Largest Construction Company, Said He believes that the Blue Dot Network certification system will make it much easier for construction companies to compete in the global market, where ethical companies are now being kicked out of the market.

“One of the reasons we are so supportive of BlueDot is that certification actually enhances these values ​​of transparency, worker safety, and the safety of physical assets we are building for the general public. To help promote a more virtuous circle by: respecting human rights and workers’ rights, taking responsible ESG actions, and, of course, building the capacity of local industries and local governments. ” Bectel said.

It remains to be seen if the Blue Dot Network can weaken the Chinese government’s power in the global infrastructure market. However, it is believed that infrastructure funding is likely to shift as Blue Dot Network certification becomes more widely adopted and certification informs private sector investment decisions.

Further governments seeking infrastructure development will have a framework for assessing future projects to avoid debt dependence.

Crispin Lovere