US eyes January rollout of first projects to counter China's Belt and Road: Official

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The United States plans to invest in five to 10 large infrastructure projects around the world in January as part of a broader Group of Seven initiative to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a senior US official said on Monday (Nov 8).

A US delegation led by President Joe Biden’s Deputy National Security Adviser Daleep Singh identified at least 10 promising projects in Senegal and Ghana during visits last week, the official said.

Officials are meeting with government and private sector leaders as they hunt for projects to be funded under the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative launched by the G-7 rich democracies in June.

Plans could be finalised during a G-7 meeting in December, the official said.

A US delegation visited Ecuador, Panama and Colombia during a similar tour in September, and another will visit Asia before year-end, the official said, without naming any specific Asian countries.

The G-7 B3W initiative is aimed at narrowing the US$40 trillion (S$53.91 trillion) in infrastructure investment that developing countries will need by 2035 and providing an alternative to problematic lending practices by China, officials have said.

The United States will offer developing countries “the full range” of US financial tools, including equity stakes, loan guarantees, political insurance, grants and technical expertise to focus on climate, health, digital technology and gender equality, the official said.

The effort sought to “identify flagship projects that could launch by the start of next year,” the official told reporters.

Officials in Senegal and Ghana welcomed US assurances that unlike China, the United States would not require non-disclosure agreements or collateral agreements that could result in later seizure of ports or airports.

Projects discussed included setting up a possible vaccine manufacturing hub for West Africa in Senegal, bolstering renewable energy supplies, boosting lending to women-owned businesses, and narrowing the digital divide.

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