The European Union will host leaders of some 20 countries next week to boost its global infrastructure plan aimed at competing with China in strategic regions, according to people familiar with the matter.
(Bloomberg) — The European Union will host leaders of some 20 countries next week to boost its global infrastructure plan aimed at competing with China in strategic regions, according to people familiar with the matter.
The summit will come a week after China gathered representatives of more than 130 countries to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its own global investment plan, the Belt and Road Initiative.
Heads of state or government who will attend the EU’s Global Gateway Forum on Oct. 25-26 in Brussels include those of Bangladesh, Senegal, Namibia and Moldova, said a senior EU official who asked not to be named on confidential preparations. The representation of Egypt and Democratic Republic of Congo has yet to be determined.
The Global Gateway is the EU’s €300 billion ($322 billion) plan “to boost smart, clean and secure links in digital, energy and transport sectors,” according to the commission’s website. The EU and its allies are competing with countries like China to develop infrastructure and connectivity projects in emerging countries.
The Chinese anniversary saw President Xi Jinping portray his investment drive as a sweeping alternative to the US-led world order, a vision for global economic cooperation endorsed in person by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Xi touted the Belt and Road as a win-win solution for China and participating countries. More than 150 countries and over 30 international organizations have signed cooperation documents, he said. The project has drawn $1 trillion in its first decade, according to estimates from think tank Green Finance & Development Center. That means an uphill struggle for the EU to compete.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, aims for a smaller and more targeted summit than the Beijing one, the EU official said, with around 20 announcements that will start rolling out the Global Gateway. The gathering will start on the eve of an EU summit.
Major EU Firms
The EU wants to strengthen ties with some of the participating countries amid the risk of growing interference of China or Russia in its backyard, and their key role in providing critical materials and fighting against illegal migration.
The forum will bring together EU institutions and member states with partner countries and European companies willing to invest in projects. Senior representatives from major EU firms are expected, including Orange, Allianz, Alstom, Danone, Enel, Siemens and Telefonica.
The forum will host discussions in panels on green energy, education and research, critical raw materials, transport corridors, health products manufacturing and digital infrastructure.
The EU is expected to sign two memorandums of understanding with Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia, easing access to critical raw materials as the bloc seeks to diversify suppliers. They will be part of the EU’s broader effort to develop the strategic Lobito/trans-Africa corridor, a railway project to connect Angola, the DRC and Zambia to allow for shipping raw materials and minerals across the Atlantic.
Delegates at Beijing’s gathering signed $97.2 billion worth of deals across a handful of sectors including clean energy, but there’s been scant public information about the nature of any of the deals, or how much has been allocated across sectors.
(Updates with Chinese details in sixth paragraph, EU ties in eighth)
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