Speech by Brigitte Zypries, Federal Minister of Economics and Energy, at the OBOR Forum, 14 May 2017

Speech by Brigitte Zypries, Federal Minister of Economics and Energy, at the OBOR Forum, 14 May 2017 Bild vergrößern Brigitte Zypries, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany, speaks during the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation at the China National Convention Center (CNCC) in Beijing, China, 14 May 2017. (© picture alliance)

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you to the Chinese government for the invitation and the opportunity to speak here.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative aims to improve infrastructure between Asia and Europe. This will bring the world’s two largest trading blocs, Asia and Europe, even closer. Better infrastructure will promote trade and investment. Germany seeks strong trade and investment links with all of our Asian partners.

And many of you are here today to share our vision of deeper economic ties, which can only come to full benefit under the rule of law and equal opportunities for everyone. Asia and Europe have a common interest in globalization and free trade. Any trend towards closing national markets and setting up new barriers to trade is dangerous and puts global growth at risk. That is why we all should be committed to an open and multilateral trading system. Protectionism must be tackled.

Germany wants to deepen its ties with Asia, based on true partnership, mutual benefit and a level playing field. Our cooperation needs to be built on trust and on an open, transparent and inclusive dialogue with all partners. Connectivity needs to be based on networks, not on one-way streets or one center. It requires a multilateral approach, not just single projects.

Joint infrastructure planning is an established practice in the EU. The EU-China Connectivity Platform builds on the lessons we have learnt in this process. It aims to realize synergies in infrastructure by ensuring a rules-based and transparent planning process.

We need also to involve the private sector on the basis of fair and transparent competition! This will be crucial for their success and for the projects’ ability to deliver benefits. For this, we must ensure open and transparent procurement processes and adherence to international standards, such as the OECD consensus on export financing. We also need to ensure market-oriented finance.

The best foundation for deepening economic ties and raising growth is to open up the market even further. As a project of regional economic integration, the EU stands for open markets, both among its members and with our non-EU partners. We welcome recent signals by the Chinese leadership for free trade and open markets. But deeds count more than words. As close partners, we encourage China to deliver reforms and market opening.

Open economies in all countries will deepen economic integration and will help to find peace and good development for all the people in the world.

Thank you for your attention!