SECOND MARSHALL PLAN: VIEW OF ING BANK ON ECONOMIC INTEGRATION IN EURASIA
The bank’s experts compare the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the Marshall Plan which played at one point in time a key role in supporting Europe’s economic recovery. Both the benefits of the two initiatives and their side effects are similar.
The One Belt and One Road Initiative represents a unique opportunity for developing countries to secure new investments and transport infrastructure and establish relations with good business partners. This is the standard opinion on the matter. However, Iris Pang, the economist for Greater China at ING Bank, warns that BRI could turn out to be a debt trap for many participants in the initiative.
FROM 2015 TO 2017 CHINESE FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS (BOTH STATE AND PRIVATE) INVESTED IN 2,700 PROJECTS THAT MAY BE CONSIDERED PART OF BRI. IN TOTAL THESE INVESTMENTS EQUATE TO USD 200 BILLION.
This is good news. However, the money will have to be returned, inter alia, through state guarantees. Pang believes that good-quality infrastructure does not guarantee a subsequent economic boom. Consequently, the countries may fail to return the money invested in them, and end up saddled with debts owed to the People’s Republic of China .
There is also a similar parallel with the Marshall Plan. To this day some economists contest the widely held view that the Marshall Plan was the saviour for post-war Europe, asserting that it delivered far more for the USA than European countries. At ING they believe that the same thing could also happen with BRI 20 years from now.
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