Despite the unexpected shock from the COVID-19 Pandemic, Pakistan has elevated one place to the 5th in infrastructure development, against the trend of an overall decline in the South Asia region.
According to the annual report on the Development of Belt and Road Infrastructure Development Index (2021), 71 countries were covered in the report, including 63 nations involved in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and eight Portuguese-speaking countries.
Among the Seven Regions, Southeast Asia ranked No.1, with Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam taking the top four places. The Central and Eastern European region ranked at the bottom as it did last year.
While South Asia was the only region suffering a major fall, declining from third to sixth place in the index, due to a severe blow to the infrastructure development undermined by the rampant spread of the Coronavirus in India, according to China Economic Net (CEN).
The Report, jointly published by the China International Contractors Association (CHINCA) and the China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation, was released at the 12th International Infrastructure Investment and Construction Forum (IIICF), a two-day event kicked off in Macao on July 22.
The report pointed out that the overall index in 2021 rose to 113 from 110, turning the downward trend in 2020. This was largely attributed to easy fiscal and monetary policies put forward by major economies around the world and the global campaign of accelerating vaccination. Besides, the economy of the BRI countries has been recovering from the pandemic, driving the rebound of the infrastructure sector.
WangYi:BRI cooperation is built on its real benefits to the people in partner countries. Many of the infrastructure & livelihood projects have played a vital role in COVID-19 response. e.g. energy projects along #CPEC have kept running & provided 1/3 of Pakistan's electricity. pic.twitter.com/dSIVWVDkXK
— Chinese Emb Pakistan (@CathayPak) May 25, 2020
Speaking at the launching ceremony, CHINCA Chairman Fang Qiuchen said carbon neutrality would lead the way of infrastructure development and new renewable energies would become a priority.
Countries along the Belt and Road have been promoting the new energy and optimizing the energy mix, and several financial institutions have announced that they would stop financing fossil energy projects and enhance support for new energy projects instead.
In addition, in the post-pandemic era, projects related to people’s livelihood, such as housing, medical and health care, have become a priority in national infrastructure plans to expand social employment and stimulate the economy, and small and medium scale infrastructure projects that could deliver results in a short term were preferred in this period.
The report also revealed the risks and challenges facing infrastructure development in BRI countries under the new circumstances. Among them, the impact of COVID-19 and its derivative risks, the potential threat of security and political risks, the financial risks of enterprises driven by inflationary pressure and exchange rate fluctuations, and the impact of extreme weather and natural disasters should be paid high attention.
The Belt & Road Infrastructure Development Index is a composite index reflecting the environment, demand, heat and cost of the infrastructure development in BRI countries.
The higher the score, the better the prospects of the infrastructure industry of a country, and the more attractive it will be for enterprises to invest in the infrastructure industry in the country.