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How will COVID-19 impact the nature, pace and scope of BRI activity in the near and longer-term future?

New research from Silk Road Associates shows that we can expect the quality of BRI to improve owing to the greater participation of the private sector and foreign companies, as well as BRI’s tighter alignment with the global supply chain.

Key takeaways

  • The impact on the global supply chain will be especially powerful given factory closures and logistic bottlenecks across the region. Chinese manufacturers were already exploring their options in Southeast Asia with many opening new factories, primarily in Vietnam and to a lesser extent Thailand. Recent events will turbocharge such activity.
  • The private sector will account for a greater share of activity given its dominant role in the supply chain, with Chinese private companies expected to be more active in Southeast Asia and South Asia relative to other BRI countries. Chinese state firms will still benefit as they invest in ports, power, and other related infrastructure. This combination of state and private sector focus on Southeast Asia’s supply is a critical tipping point for the BRI as it raises the commercial viability of projects.
  • Digital BRI will likely race ahead fastest. COVID-19 is forcing the world to rethink the potential to work remotely or use technology to battle the virus. As Chinese technology companies respond fastest to the change, they will find opportunities to sell similar solutions across the BRI region.

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Bee Chun heads the Firm's Energy, Mining & Infrastructure Practice Group in Asia Pacific and co-heads the Mergers and Acquisitions practice in Singapore. She has worked in the Firm’s offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taipei and Beijing. Bee Chun practices mainly in the areas of M&A, venture capital and private equity. She was named as one of China's Top 15 Female Lawyers in 2020 by Asian Legal Business (ALB). She is also consistently recognised as a leading lawyer by IFLR1000 in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, private equity and project finance.


Martin David is a principal in the Finance and Projects Practice Group at Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow and heads the Projects practice in Asia Pacific and Singapore. He is a former civil engineer and has market-leading experience in relation to greenfield IPPs in Asia, particularly in the renewables sector (wind and geothermal).