How will COVID-19 impact the nature, pace and scope of BRI activity in the near and longer-term future?
New research from Silk Road Associates shows that we can expect the quality of BRI to improve owing to the greater participation of the private sector and foreign companies, as well as BRI’s tighter alignment with the global supply chain.
- The impact on the global supply chain will be especially powerful given factory closures and logistic bottlenecks across the region. Chinese manufacturers were already exploring their options in Southeast Asia with many opening new factories, primarily in Vietnam and to a lesser extent Thailand. Recent events will turbocharge such activity.
- The private sector will account for a greater share of activity given its dominant role in the supply chain, with Chinese private companies expected to be more active in Southeast Asia and South Asia relative to other BRI countries. Chinese state firms will still benefit as they invest in ports, power, and other related infrastructure. This combination of state and private sector focus on Southeast Asia’s supply is a critical tipping point for the BRI as it raises the commercial viability of projects.
- Digital BRI will likely race ahead fastest. COVID-19 is forcing the world to rethink the potential to work remotely or use technology to battle the virus. As Chinese technology companies respond fastest to the change, they will find opportunities to sell similar solutions across the BRI region.