Experts at a recent conference on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, hosted in Istanbul, spoke of its many advantages to the region, but also on the challenges involved in attracting financing
BY Anoop Singh Distinguished Fellow, Geoeconomics Studies
Turkey hosted a major conference on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the last week of April in Istanbul. The main hosts were: Koç University Maritime Forum (KUDENFOR), Koç University Asia Centre (KUASIA), and the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) of Turkey. Huaqiao University, China, was the main sponsor, supported by the Chinese Embassy. Other participants came from the academic and business community in Turkey, and representatives from the EU and other countries. I represented Gateway House.
The meeting was well timed–ahead of the Heads of State BRI Summit in Beijing in mid-May, when countries and international financial institutions (IFIs) are expected to sign up formally on the project. Turkish president Erdogan will attend it. India has not yet indicated sending any representation to the summit—and is unlikely to do so.
The BRI has become China’s most ambitious foreign trade and investment project  in its 13th Five-Year Plan, potentially similar in size to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, previously proposed by the U.S. China’s 2017 Government Work Report identified the BRI as an anchor for expansion and enhancement of the “opening up” policy, with international capacity cooperation as a key component.