Q. Will COVID-19 pandemic jolt the China’s Belt and Road investments in Central Asia?
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Replied by Dr Pravesh Kumar Gupta

In Central Asia, COVID-19 positive cases came into light in the mid of March but it has certainly compelled the governments of these republics to take stern actions against its spread. Tajikistan had sealed its borders with China even before having any positive cases. The novel Corona virus spread has certainly descended China’s outbound investments, including the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This crisis has also hampered China’s manufacturing supply chains, and BRI projects are predominantly reliant on Chinese, rather than local, materials and supplies. Work has ceased on BRI related projects in Central Asia. China’s import of natural gas from Central Asia has also reduced drastically. There were thousands of Chinese workers present in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. A freeze on the flow of Chinese labour is a significant factor in these disruptions. The COVID-19 crisis situation in China and also in Central Asian republics will take an adequate amount of time to be taken care of. Until then, Chinese BRI related investments will face downward pressures.

Date : 27/03/2020
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