China has promised to invest up to 1 trillion RMB in infrastructure projects in building the new silk road and opening up the route to markets in Asia, Africa and Europe. This is a lot of money. The question is not so much the projects that will be financed but who will undertake the projects. In other words is the programme open to non-Chinese enterprises. At first sight it does not appear so. China not opened its domestic infrastructure market to competition by joining the WTO Government Procurement agreement and does not allow foreign enterprises to compete in China. It is expected that these same domestic exclusions will apply to the spending on the One Belt One Road projects wherever they are located.
Once the routes have been built then the question will be which way will trade flow. It is expected that the vast majority of the flow will be from China out and there will be very little trade from outside into China. This is because China closes its market to foreign goods and discriminates against them.
The One Belt One Road initiative can bring immediate local benefits. Care must be taken to make sure that bigger considerations are not lost when evaluating local gains.