The Biden administration is considering a US-led competitor for China’s Belt and Road international trade and public works program, and a top White House official will scout Latin America next week for possible projects.
Daleep Singh, the US deputy national security adviser for international economics, is travelling to Colombia, Ecuador and Panama to talk with high-level officials, business leaders and civic activists about infrastructure needs, according to US officials who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.
Colombian President Ivan Duque Marquez, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso and Panamanian Public Works Minister Rafael Sabonge are among the officials Singh plans to meet.
The White House says it wants to engage in projects with higher environmental and labour standards than those China is funding, with full transparency for the financial terms, the officials said.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has transformed from what was once regarded in the US as a series of unconnected infrastructure projects into a centrepiece of Beijing’s foreign policy strategy, aides to President Joe Biden said. China has gained raw materials, trade links and geopolitical leverage from the program, they added.
Beijing launched the BRI – “One Belt, One Road” – in 2013, initially as a way to replicate the ancient Silk Road maritime trade routes linking Asia to Europe, including several ports, roads and other infrastructure along the way.