Amy Celico on U.S.-China infrastructure opportunities

Finding a lane for US business to enter Belt & Road

By: Hong Xiao 

President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump have emphasized infrastructure, so it makes sense that their two countries would work together on China's Belt and Road Initiative, according to a business strategist.

"I think it's important that American companies do find opportunities to participate in the One Belt One Road initiative because President Trump himself has focused on infrastructure issues here in the United States," said Amy Celico, principal of Albright Stonebridge Group, a global business strategy firm with offices in Washington, Beijing, Shanghai and Dubai.

"What we'll wait to see is how can our two countries work together to promote infrastructure investment around the world, including the One Belt One Road initiative," said Celico, who leads the firm's China team in Washington and was former senior director for China affairs at the office of the US trade representative.

Celico said many of her clients have expressed an interest in the initiative and in participating not just with China but with other countries.

Celico spoke at a panel discussion themed China and the World, One Belt One Road at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Sunday as a part of the 20th Harvard China Forum. Experts and business leaders shared opinions on the initiative.

"It's not China that needs to expedite investment with countries along the One Belt One Road merely in Europe and Asia, but for other countries, especially the developing countries," said Wu Xinbo, professor and executive dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University. "Undeveloped, poor infrastructure is a rigid ordinate of economic growth," he added.

"And when China invests in those countries in terms of manufacturing, that will generate economic growth and job opportunities, finally along the One Belt One Road, so this cooperation will benefit bilateral and multilateral trade relations," he said. "So on the whole, I think this is exactly a win-win situation between China and the joined countries."

Wu said that last year trade between China and countries in the region of the initiative grew at a faster pace than China's overall trade with all the partners in the world.

"That means the initiative has already worked to enhance the trade relations between China and the countries along the initiative's proposed routes," Wu said.

On April 6, Xi and Trump met for the first time at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, where Xi welcomed US participation in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Li Bin, economic consul at the Chinese embassy in the US, believes American companies would be a good fit.

"I think the American companies are the most capable companies to practice internationalization. So they can teach us or even share with us experiences in the One Belt, One Road context, for example, policy, coordination, trade, financial integration, infrastructure and connectivity," he said.