News Excerpt
Recently, US president (on his maiden visit to India) & India are expected to have discussions on the Blue Dot Network, a proposal that will certify infrastructure and development projects. Observers have referred to the proposal as a means of countering China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which was launched over six years ago.

It is led by the US’s International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), the Blue Dot network was jointly launched by the US, Japan (Japanese Bank for International Cooperation) and Australia (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) in 2019 on the side lines of the 35th ASEAN summits in Thailand.

How is BDN different from BRI?
This US project is therefore a direct tentative response to the Chinese BRI. The two programs aim to strengthen connectivity in Asia, a continent suffering from a major infrastructure deficit, as noted by the Asia Development Bank.
•    The US highlighted the participation of private companies and the respect for international standards in the BDN, which would differentiate it from the BRI.
•    Chinese initiative, at its inception, suffered from lack of transparency and sustainability but BDN is up to the mark in term of transparency and sustainability.
•    The major difference between the BRI and the BDN is that the Chinese initiative is today more advanced that BDN which still seems to be in its infancy.
•    Despite soothing statements, the “Blue Dot Network” has a strong geopolitical dimension, and is the consequence of a Sino-American confrontation. We can thus notice that although the “Blue Dot Network” is a multilateral project bringing together the United States, Japan and Australia, it is President Trump, and he alone, who invited India to join the group. Japan and Australia seem to be less willing to rush in this new initiative, as many Japanese companies are already benefiting from the BRI.
•    The “Blue Dot Network” should therefore become one of the many development tools that can be use by Asian states to achieve development.

How BDN benefits India
    BND help India to continue to infrastructure modernization in order to address regional inequality issues and create new growth opportunities.
    The BDN would also enable New Delhi to advance its own “Act East Policy” strategy. For New Delhi, the BDN could create new exchanges with neighbours.
    China is India’s second economic partner, and therefore New Delhi remains interested in the BRI, but cannot officially join the Chinese initiative because of the Kashmir issue.
    There is a need for transparency and financial accountability when it come infrastructure development projects in India which will be definitely provided by BDN.
    BDN will smooth the progress of potential foreign investment for the Indian economy.

Way Forward
     India probably have the highest number of infrastructure project built in public-private partnership (PPP) mode in the last two decades. And, yet there is a huge and growing infrastructural deficit on the ground, and the vast bulk of projects that are essential requirement are not even on the drawing boards, leave alone being built. The way forward is to standardize big-ticket project implementation with transparent arm’s-length finance and to carry out effective project delivery.
    We need to modernize infrastructure finance. Instead of reliance on opaque bank funding, we need to policy-induce an active and vibrant corporate bond market to cope up with much-needed transparency in big-ticket projects. The way ahead is to set up special purpose vehicles to garner all and sundry clearances for specific investments, and then to invite bids for project implementation.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
is an ambitious programme to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks along six corridors with the aim of improving regional integration, increasing trade and stimulating economic growth.

35TH ASEAN Summit, Act East Policy, Sino-American confrontation and US foreign policy towards China

Act East India
This policy, developed in 2014, aims to strengthen cooperation between India and its Southeast Asian neighbors. However, success has been limited mainly to the defense sector