G7 launches $600 billion infrastructure plan to counter China

by Barbara R. Abercrombie
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The G7 Global Infrastructure and Investment Partnership will help fund infrastructure projects in developing countries.

The leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries have pledged to raise $600 billion in private and public funds over five years to fund infrastructure in developing countries and the older, multitrillion-dollar Belt and Road project. against China.

US President Joe Biden and other G7 leaders relaunched the recently renamed “Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment” at their annual meeting at Schloss Elmau in southern Germany on Sunday.

“Developing countries often lack the essential infrastructure to deal with global shocks, such as a pandemic, so they feel the impact more sharply and have a harder time recovering,” Biden said.

“That’s not just a humanitarian concern, it’s an economic and security concern for all of us.”

The United States, he said, would mobilize $200 billion in grants, federal funds and private investment over five years to support projects in low- and middle-income countries that help tackle climate change and improve global health, gender equality and digital infrastructure. .

“I want to be clear. This is not aid or charity. It’s an investment that pays off for everyone,” Biden said, adding that countries “could see the tangible benefits of partnering with democracies.”

Biden said hundreds of billions of additional dollars could come from multilateral development banks, development finance agencies, sovereign wealth funds and others.

Europe will mobilize 300 billion euros ($317 billion) over the same period for the initiative to build a sustainable alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative program, launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, the chairman of China said. the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, at the meeting. †

The leaders of Italy, Canada and Japan also spoke about their plans, some of which have already been announced separately. French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were not present, but their countries are also participating.

China’s investment program includes development and programs in more than 100 countries aimed at creating a modern version of the ancient trade route along the Silk Road from Asia to Europe.

White House officials said the plan has brought few tangible benefits to many developing countries, leaving recipient countries with debt and investments that benefit China more than their hosts.

Biden highlighted several flagship projects, including a $2 billion solar project in Angola with support from the Department of Commerce, US Export-Import Bank, US firm AfricaGlobal Schaffer and US property developer Sun Africa.

Washington, along with G7 members and the European Union, will also provide $3.3 million in technical assistance to the Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal as it develops an industrial, flexible, multi-vaccine manufacturing facility in that country that will ultimately prevent COVID-19. can produce. and other vaccines, a project also involving the EU.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will also commit up to $50 million over five years to the World Bank’s global Childcare Incentive Fund.

Friederike Roder, vice president of the nonprofit Global Citizen, said the investment pledges could be “a good start” for greater G7 engagement in developing countries and support stronger global growth for all.

G7 countries give, on average, just 0.32 percent of their gross national income — less than half of the promised 0.7 percent — on development aid, she said.

“But without developing countries there will be no sustainable recovery of the global economy,” she said.

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