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Chinese model of development assistance has little local content: Ross on China's OBOR


Press Trust of India Washington
The US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross today raised question over the quality of workmanship in projects being carried out under China's One-Belt-One-Road initiative in various countries, saying the Chinese model of development assistance has little local content and there have been complaints about the quality of products being used.
In an apparent dig at China's ambitious One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR) initiative, he said there are many belts and many roads in the Indo-Pacific region.
The OBOR is Chinese President Xi Jinping's multi-billion project. The initiative focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among Asian countries, Africa, China and Europe.
"Our feeling is, there are more than one belt and more than one road," Ross said in response to a question on the OBOR at the first Indo-Pacific Business Forum organised by the US Chambers of Commerce.
Noting that the Chinese model of developmental assistance has little local content and there has been complaint about the quality of products, he said, "As far as we can tell, the Chinese content, both in terms of labour and materials, is virtually 100 per cent in their One Belt, One Road programme".
He said that every country that he had been to, not just in Indo-Pacific but in Africa and elsewhere, what -- actually one of their complaints was that there's very little local content.
"There also have been some complaints about the quality of workmanship. You saw this big dam in Laos. Not a Chinese-built dam; it happened to be South Korean. But it just broke. Collapsed. Those are the kinds of problems that countries don't need, because that leaves them with the debt from the first infrastructure project, and a need to redo it all over again," Ross said.
The US Commerce Secretary said Indo-Pacific was an important region for the United States and its ties actually goes back to 1794.
"The State Department opened a branch or location in Kolkata. So that's how far back it goes. But relationships have gone up and down in between, he said.
From the commercial point of view, he said, there are all sorts of reasons for it.
"We import from the region about USD 1 trillion and we export to it around USD 450 billion. That trade deficit of USD 550 billion is an issue, but the total value is also very, very important. And of that trade deficit, China is about USD 376 billion, so the vast bulk of it is with China," he said.
Ross said those exports to the region support some USD 50,000 jobs in the US. 40,000 US companies sell over USD 100 billion of products to the Indo-Pacific region.
"So it's a very, very important economic factor for us. Exports to the region grew by 10 per cent last year, which is pretty good performance for any region," he said.
And perhaps most importantly of all, the Brookings Institution believes that in the next billion people to come into middle-class economic status, 88 per cent will be in the Indo-Pacific region.
"So that's a pretty staggering statistic from the consumer consumption point of view," he observed.

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First Published: Jul 31 2018 | 12:40 AM IST

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