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The banks that (almost) define BRI

The Belt and Road Initiative began as a bold plan focused mainly on infrastructure investment, and while construction may still be the policy focus, banks are using BRI as a catch-all for a growing set of cross-border business opportunities.

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Chinese president Xi Jinping raises his glass to toast those attending the Belt and Road Forum in April


Chinese president Xi Jinping announced his ambitious Belt and Road Initiative on his visit to Kazakhstan and Indonesia in late 2013. During the trip, Xi raised the idea of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Since then, there have been two BRI forums (one in 2017, the other in 2019) plus several international cooperation summits. The initiative has led to the building of railroads and other infrastructure, created new jobs, spurred deals and caused some culture clash.

So far, over 120 countries have signed up to BRI. By the end of 2018, the volume of goods traded between China and BRI countries and regions surpassed $6 trillion. China signed currency swap agreements with 20 BRI countries and formed renminbi clearing arrangements with seven.