On September 25-26, 2017, the 9th FCPAE Europe Forum organized by the AFCDUD (Association Franco-Chinoise du Développement Urbain Durable, French-Chinese Association for Sustainable Urban Development) was held in Issy-Les Moulineaux near Paris. The main theme of this event was “Smart City Green Life”. Former Minister André Santini, Vice President of the Metropole of Greater Paris chaired a round table on smart cities and co-innovation.
One session, chaired by Michel Rostagnat (Conseil général de l’environnement et du développement durable, General Council for Environment and Sustainable Development), was devoted to the Belt and Road initiative.
All five speakers emphasized the importance of the Belt and Road initiative in China-EU relations.
Christian Vicenty (Direction Générale des Entreprises, Ministère de l’Economie et des Finances, Directorate General of Enterprises, Ministry of Economy and Finance) made a presentation on the new Silk Roads. His main point is that the world is experiencing an economic and geopolitical disrupstion in favor of Asia and China; he noticed that the new Silk roads illustrated the rise of Asia. Trade between Europe and China remain unbalanced. For Christian Vicenty, Europe must quickly formulate a response to China’s Belt and Road initiative so that this strategy is truly a win-win partnership for Europe and China.
Christian Vicenty’s presentation is available here (pdf, 4.5 mo).
The presentation prepared by Sébastien Goulard (consultant at Cooperans and coordinator of OBOReurope) and entitled “Europe, France and the Belt and Road Initiative” insisted on the reasons why Europe should be more involved in the construction of the new Silk Roads. Goulard also listed the main challenges that Europe and China would face in implementing this project. For Sébastien Goulard, the “Belt and Road” initiative can only have a positive impact for Europe if European states coordinate their actions and define a common policy towards China and other states involved the new Silk roads.
Sébastien Goulard’s presentation is available here (pdf, 735 ko).
Shao Ming, senior consultant at ChinaConduct, outlined the possible intercultural challenges companies involved in OBOR may face. According to her, the main challenge is the lack of cultural knowledge, which leads to a lack of confidence between European and Chinese partners. It is therefore necessary for business leaders to understand the importance of cultural integration. Shao Ming suggests that training on intercultural integration should be developed within companies involved in the Belt and Road initiative and that continuous monitoring should be implemented to improve mutual understanding between Chinese and European partners.
Shao Ming’s presentation is available here (pdf, 1.8 mo).
The presentation made by Vincent Aurez (consultant at EY, and associated expert at “Institut de l’économie circulaire”) was entitled “Untapping the Potential of the Green and Sustainable Economy to Build a Sustainable One Belt One Road Initiative”. The One Belt One Road initiative is regularly presented as a massive strategic infrastructure development project, but rarely as a green infrastructure development project. Nevertheless, its consequences on international trade and transportation as well as on the industries of the countries along the routes could be analyzed through a sustainable development lens. With two of its priority goals focusing on cooperation and connectivity, the initiative’s impacts on sustainable development could be major : fostering the development of low carbon transportation modes, reducing the dependency of local economies on extractive industries, promoting the use of local resources and materials and of renewable energy sources
The last presentation prepared by Xavier Wanderpepen (SCNF) (The Silk Road: making China and Europe as neighbors) focused on the new railway connecting China to Europe. For the last 5 years and the launch of the Silk Road trains, 20 freight trains connect China to Europe (round trip) every week, with a reload rate to China of about 70%. This accounts only for 3% of EU-China trade volumes suitable for rail transport. The objective is to double these volumes by 2020 with a rail traffic of 7 trains per day in each direction. Till now, BRI trains follow a main corridor linking China to Northern Europe. But in order that every country enjoy the Belt and Road, freight railway networks in Western and Southern Europe will also have to be connected; companies are interested in this new offer that is faster than ship transportation and cheaper than air transportation.
Xavier Wanderpepen’s presentation is available here (pdf, 687 ko).
This session reflects the growing interest in the “Belt and Road” initiative among French and European decision-makers.