Home » Breaking News, Features » US-led Blue Dot Network launched to counter Belt and Road Initiative

The United States, Japan and Australia unveiled recently the Blue Dot Network, whose goal is to “advance high-quality, trusted infrastructure development standards” and which is seen by observers as intending to rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) unveiled the scheme last November 4 at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Bangkok, Thailand.  

The OPIC in a statement described the Blue Dot Network as “a multi-stakeholder initiative that brings together governments, the private sector, and civil society to promote high-quality, trusted standards for global infrastructure development in an open and inclusive framework.”

The network will “evaluate and certify nominated infrastructure projects based upon adherence to commonly accepted principles and standards to promote market-driven, transparent, and financially sustainable infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world.”

US officials have reportedly likened it to a “Michelin Guide” for Asian infrastructure investors.

While the initiative is being regarded by many watchers as the West’s response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the two appear to be fundamentally different.

Belt and Road projects are wholly financed by the Chinese government and state-owned enterprises, while the Blue Dot Network will reportedly see Australia, the US and Japan providing technical expertise rather than huge amounts of investment and capital.

“The development of critical infrastructure—when it is led by the private sector and supported on terms that are transparent, sustainable, and socially and environmentally responsible—is foundational to widespread economic empowerment,” said OPIC’s David Bohigian. “Through Blue Dot Network, the United States is proud to join key partners to fully unlock the power of quality infrastructure to foster unprecedented opportunity, progress, and stability.”

“This endorsement of Blue Dot Network not only creates a solid foundation for infrastructure global trust standards but reinforces the need for the establishment of umbrella global trust standards in other sectors, including digital, mining, financial services, and research,” said U.S. Department of State Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith Krach.

DFAT Deputy Secretary Richard Maude said, “Australia is committed to promoting high-quality infrastructure, inclusive approaches, and facilitating private sector investment in the Indo-Pacific region. I’m pleased that this commitment is shared by East Asia Summit Leaders, and we look forward to working closely with our regional partners to develop Blue Dot Network to take action on this commitment.”

“Blue Dot Network is an initiative that leads to the promotion of quality infrastructure investment committed by G20 countries,” said JBIC Governor Tadashi Maeda. “As JBIC has a long history of infrastructure finance all over the world, JBIC is pleased to share such experience and contribute to further development of Blue Dot Network.”

OPIC said Blue Dot Network will support the goals of East Asia Summit Leaders and build upon common principles of project excellence.

“The initiative complements efforts by OPIC, DFAT, and JBIC to strengthen development finance cooperation in support of principles-based infrastructure and sustainable economic growth, both in the projects they support individually and through their Trilateral Infrastructure Partnership,” it added.

U.S. government coordination of Blue Dot Network will initially be led by OPIC, in close coordination with other agencies and departments. Blue Dot Network participants will form a steering committee to further refine the initiative and its global infrastructure standards, and invite partners representing sovereign governments, economies, the private sector, and civil society to join the effort and support the development of the initiative’s permanent governing structure and processes, said the statement.

OPIC is a self-sustaining U.S. government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets.

Photo by Anamul Rezwan

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