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Enforcement of arbitration awards: choose your courts wisely

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Enforcement of arbitration awards: choose your courts wisely

By Deborah H. Ruff (Partner), Trevor Wood (Partner) and Julia Kalinina Belcher (Counsel)

Introduction

Enforcement of arbitration awards can be an intensive, unpredictable, and hard-fought process. Once a favourable award is obtained, if payment is not made voluntarily, the award creditor will use all legally available means to collect on it. It will likely go to considerable lengths to identify the award debtor’s most ‘lucrative’ assets in various jurisdictions that it can enforce the award against. It will also consider the jurisdictions where the courts will be most likely to grant it the orders sought.

Third parties routinely get caught in the middle of the crossfire between the award debtor and the award creditor. Banks, in particular, whose services are used by the award debtor and suppliers who owe the award debtor money, may find themselves affected. While, logically, one would expect that the value of the award debtor’s assets in the hands of third parties that should be subject to enforcement orders should not exceed the total value of the award debt, this is not always the case, as the recent enforcement proceedings between Moldovan investors Anatoli and Gabriel Stati and their affiliated companies (the “Stati parties”) and the Republic of Kazakhstan (“Kazakhstan”) demonstrate.

Background

Julia Belcher

Julia Belcher

The Stati parties obtained a Swedish Chamber of Commerce award of just over US$500 million against Kazakhstan (the “Award”) in December 2013. The SCC tribunal found Kazakhstan liable for breaching the Energy Charter Treaty (the “ECT”), mainly its fair and equitable treatment provisions.

Kazakhstan sought to annul the Award in the “seat” of the arbitration (Sweden), arguing, among other things, that the Stati parties obtained it by fraud. The challenge, however, was unsuccessful: both the Svea Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court upheld the Award without considering the substance of the state’s fraud claims.

In the meantime, the Stati parties took the Award for enforcement to various jurisdictions.They targeted the Bank of New York Mellon (“BONYM”), which provides banking and custody services to the National Bank of Kazakhstan (the “NBK”), which manages assets on trust for the state, in respect of Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund, Samruk-Kazyna (“Samruk”). BONYM is incorporated in Belgium and has branches in Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris, Dublin, Luxembourg, Milan and London.  It is ultimately owned by the US-based The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation.

In 2014, the Stati parties applied to the Dutch courts seeking garnishment orders on 17 banks (including BONYM) and 40 companies, and obtained provisional leave to do so. However, the Dutch Ministry of Justice was reported to have blocked the attachments shortly after on the basis that the assets were not shown to have been held for commercial purposes, presumably on the basis of the sovereign immunity doctrine.

In August 2017, the Stati parties made a new ex parte application in the Dutch courts in which they sought pre-enforcement attachments/garnishments to attach BONYM’s assets both in the Netherlands and outside the jurisdiction. Although the order granting attachments stated that they were not to apply to BONYM’s branches outside the Netherlands, the garnishment orders issued pursuant to the attachment decision were not so limited, extending to BONYM’s assets both in and outside the Netherlands. As a matter of Dutch law, garnishment is unlimited in amount and is not confined to the amount of debt owed by the debtor to the creditor.

BONYM (upon legal advice) took the view that the Dutch garnishments were apt to apply to all of Samruk’s assets held by BONYM’s London branch under the 2001 Global Custody Agreement (the “GCA”) between BONYM and the NBK. Accordingly, BONYM froze US$22.6 billion in cash, bonds and equity shareholdings.

The Stati parties also successfully attached a further US$5.2 billion in other assets held by Samruk in the Netherlands, targeting its indirect interest in the consortium that runs an oil field in the Caspian Sea.

In January 2018, the Dutch courts lifted the US$22.6 billion attachment on BONYM’s accounts, on what appears to be the sovereign immunity doctrine and non-disclosure of the earlier application, having found that the US$22.6 billion worth of assets frozen were effectively the same assets that were the subject of the Statiparties’ failed 2014 application. Nevertheless, the Amsterdam court refused the request from the NBK for a permanent ban preventing new attachments of BONYM’s assets.

Belgian courts granted the Stati parties’ application for attachments and garnishments for largely the same assets as those frozen by the Dutch courts in October 2017. Because, under Belgian law, a garnishment at a bank’s place of incorporation covers all assets, whether or not they relate to activities of a branch of that bank outside Belgium, BONYM (upon legal advice) considered that the garnishment properly extended to all of the assets held by it under the GCA. This order remains in place.

Swedish courts also granted the Stati parties an attachment order worth around US$100 million in respect of Kazakhstan’s shareholding in 33 Swedish public companies, on which the Swedish state bailiffs have commenced the foreclosure process.

In Luxembourg, the Stati parties secured another garnishment order against BONYM and attachments of Kazakhstan’s shareholding in Luxembourg-based Eurasian Resources Group, plus trade receivables from a number of Luxembourg companies due to Kazakhstan.

Deborah Ruff

Deborah Ruff

The Stati parties started proceedings in September 2014 in the US courts to enforce the Award. The courts twice refused to allow Kazakhstan to introduce allegations of fraud as a defence against enforcement. Kazakhstan reportedly intends to appeal the latest decision.

The English High Court initially granted the Stati parties permission to enforce the Award in England in early 2014, which Kazakhstan applied to set aside on a number of New York Convention grounds. However, having later obtained disclosure of documents from US courts that Kazakhstan says show that the Award was obtained by fraud, the state sought to amend its initial set aside application to add a further ground – that enforcement of the Award would contravene English public policy by reason of fraud by the Stati parties.

The position of the bank

The value of assets of the NBK frozen by BONYM pursuant to the Belgian and Dutch orders was 45 times the amount awarded to the Stati parties and comprised around 40% of the value of the entire sovereign fund. By complying with the orders, BONYM no doubt sought to negate the risk of civil liability for the amount of the Stati parties’ claims, as well as potential criminal liability in Belgium and the Netherlands, had it defied the orders.

However, complying with the orders exposed the bank to claims by its customer, the NBK (and Kazakhstan), under the GCA, which provides for English jurisdiction, which the latter brought in the English High Court seeking a number of declarations designed to establish that BONYM was not obliged or entitled to freeze the Kazakh assets.

Central to the claimants’ application was the contention that the NBK contracted with the London branch of BONYM in order to secure the immunity of the assets under English law. They also argued that one of the provisions of the GCA (clause 16(i)) which excluded BONYM’s liability to perform its obligations if such failure was caused by circumstances beyond its direct control, including any order imposed by any judicial authority, was not sufficiently clear to displace the position under English private international law that the Dutch or Belgian orders would not excuse BONYM from performance under the GCA. Clause 16(i) provided that “[BNYM] shall [not] be liable for and no default shall be caused by any delay or failure on the part of [BNYM] to perform any obligation which, in whole or in part, arises out of or is caused by circumstances beyond its direct and reasonable control including without limitation…any order…imposed by any…judicial…authority”.

The English court disagreed with the NBK. Without expressing an opinion as to whether the NBK was correct as to their interpretation of English private international law, Popplewell J rejected the claimants’ contention on a number of grounds, including the lack of evidence that the NBK intended to contract only with BONYM’s London branch to protect Samruk from any enforcement process since the assets would be treated as located only in London; such intention could not be gleaned from other provisions of the GCA. Popplewell J then declined to grant the NBK and the state any of the declarations sought by them for various reasons, including that they were founded on the NBK’s interpretation of clause 16(i) of the GCA, which the judge had rejected.

Importantly, the judge declined to grant the declaration sought by the NBK that the assets of Samruk were immune from enforcement as property belonging to a central bank of a sovereign state and/or the state. He held, inter alia, that there was no substantial issue in dispute between BONYM and the NBK, since BONYM was neutral to the question of sovereign immunity and the parties interested in the resolution of this question (i.e., the Stati parties) were not party to the application by the NBK against BONYM.

Choice of Forum for Enforcement

The strategy for enforcing the Award adopted by the Stati parties has highlighted the importance of making the right choice of the jurisdiction in which enforcement orders are to be sought so that it can be used as a “springboard” to reach assets globally. The attachment/garnishment orders obtained from the Dutch and Belgian courts resulting in a freeze of US$22.6 billion worth of assets far in excess of the Award debt have made it unnecessary for the Stati parties to pursue enforcement proceedings in other jurisdictions.

There is also an issue of fraud that Kazakhstan says was committed by the Stati parties and which is said to have influenced the arbitrators’ Award, which may lead to paradoxical results. Last year, the English High Court found a “sufficient prima facie case” that the Award was obtained by fraud – a conclusion it reached in light of the new evidence obtained in US proceedings. It also ruled that Kazakhstan was not issue estopped from advancing fraud allegations, since neither the Swedish, US nor English courts have decided their merits. Even if the issue estoppel had been made out, the question of whether the enforcement of the Award should be permitted would have to be decided by the English Courts applying English public order considerations. Although the trial on the merits of Kazakhstan’s allegations was scheduled for November 2018, the Stati parties have discontinued their enforcement application in England, rendering the hearing unnecessary, possibly seeking to avoid having the Award found unenforceable in at least one jurisdiction, fearing that this could prejudice enforcement efforts in other jurisdictions.

Kazakhstan’s efforts to impede the enforcement of the Award in Sweden on the basis of the alleged fraud was unsuccessful. Kazakhstan’s motion to amend its application to add the alleged fraud to the grounds for opposing enforcement was rejected by US courts. At the moment, therefore, no court has fully tried or decided the question of whether the alleged fraud took place, and it may well be that no court will ever decide this question. Yet, the Belgian freeze on Samruk’s assets held by BONYM is still in place – at least, for now.

The US$22.6 billion asset freeze in Belgium will stay in place, unless the Belgian courts try the merits of the fraud allegations and decide that the enforcement of the Award would offend Belgian public policy. Even if the Belgian court did so decide, unless the Dutch courts did the same, the US$5.2 billion attachment that remains on other assets of Samruk would stand.

The enforcement proceedings relating to the Stati v Kazakhstan Award have highlighted how, by using jurisdictions that have the narrowest application of public policy considerations and the widest interpretation of what amounts can be frozen how an award creditor, an award creditor can use the orders granted in those jurisdictions as “springboards” for reaching assets in others, even those in which enforcement of the award is denied.

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Business recovery from COVID-19 lies in implementing the practice of Open Book Management

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Business recovery from COVID-19 lies in implementing the practice of Open Book Management 1

By Suranga Herath is CEO of English Tea Shop, the leading independent speciality and organic tea company.

Over the course of the last few months, most businesses have been forced to adapt their strategy against the backdrop of the pandemic. For many companies, business growth and development slowed and certain key goals and innovations fell to the wayside in order to prioritise ‘survival’.

For my business – a speciality tea company – we place great emphasis on exporting across the globe and bringing people together to enjoy a cup of tea as part of a wider community. Neither of those things have been possible amidst the pandemic. Whilst this was initially difficult for us, we are now steadily transforming our business to function in the new world order and our business model of Creating Shared Value is instrumental in making this happen. This has not only brought us closer with our suppliers and customers during this challenging time, but also through the practice of Open Book Management (OBM) we have been able to navigate this time united and focussed. OBM fosters a unique culture of employee and stakeholder transparency, empowerment, and satisfaction; in turn leading to incredible results, loyalty and increased productivity across the board.

So as we start adjusting to the new normal, I wanted to share a couple of reflections that I believe has made a fundamental difference during this challenging time. My firm belief is that whilst the road to recovery will be a long process for any business, it is through implementing initiatives like the Open Book Management that businesses from all sectors can put their best foot forward as we enter the new normal.

Open Book Management – a definition

Open-book management (OBM) is the business practice of creating transparency through sharing financial information with employees across the company. The power of its implementation lies beyond just the practical means, as the philosophy and theory carry profound ripple effect across the entire organisation and culture. Whilst for many leaders the idea of sharing financial information with employees beyond the senior management team seems alien, the benefits reaped are worth the effort.

Open Book Management (OBM) is a system that incorporates this financial transparency alongside providing teaching, KPIs and bonus systems for employees, as well as Employee Share Ownership Program (ESOP) which gives staff a percentage of the company shares. The idea behind this is that when employees gain a better understanding of how the organisation is run, they become empowered by this knowledge and become more committed to the company and its results.

This is not necessarily limited to employees, and is often extended to stakeholders; in fact, at English Tea Shop we have been equally transparent with our community of organic farmers, reaching out to them during Covid to be transparent around our cash flow and assure them in their role as suppliers.

Road to Recovery

Regardless of industry, size or previous growth, any business leader will admit that the recovery from prolonged socio and economic disruption like the COVID-19 pandemic is a long and challenging process. Businesses that choose to shake up their traditional business models and embrace a more disruptive and progressive approach will experience a first mover advantage and put themselves in a good position for the long and hard battle ahead. In my view, initiatives like OBM and the Great Game of Business are the perfect starting point for any business that is looking to motivate its workforce through fostering a strong community and igniting entrepreneurial spirit.

Our Story

Since inception, my goal for English Tea Shop has always been to build a business of dedicated people with sustainability as our guiding force. Our model of Creating Shared Value is focused on creating win-win situations whilst finding opportunities for growth in sustainable development. All whilst looking after our Prajava (Sri Lankan word for community).

Over the last couple of years we’ve grown substantially, whilst keeping a happy and motivated workforce. This has resulted in numerous awards wins. But perhaps the biggest measurable achievement to date is the 31% improvement of productivity across our factories in just under 12 months. This came about organically without any further investment towards new technology or systems during that period.

From a business perspective, this meant we had increased capacity to do more, and reach a wider audience. It also helped us win a host of prestigious awards for Sustainability, such as the Queen’s Award, National Business Award, Gold awards at Sri Lanka’s National Productivity Awards and many others. Just this month, we were awarded the “The Great Game of Business All-Star” for our commitment to generating results through integrating Open Book Management within the Creating Shared Value business model.

Even during the most difficult years, such as Brexit, we were able to keep our head high and remain profitable despite the numerous external challenges, and this was because everyone worked towards a commonly shared goal and had a high level of accountability in terms of their individual actions; no matter how little they believe them to affect the bigger picture. This is the magic of OBM.

While for my business and many alike financials have been strong, the most profound impact of OBM lies on the level of understanding it fosters greater understanding of business. When everyone started thinking and acting like commercially-minded business people they understood challenges better, and they applied their knowledge and skills much better. Hence, we are confident of a long-term approach that will make us a uniquely sustainable business.

Why now?

From my perspective, there is nothing more powerful than a business driven by entrepreneurially minded employees, that understand how their role plays a part in the bigger picture and strategy of the business. This is exactly the type of mindset and culture that OBM fosters, and embedded across the entire organisation, and if our results are anything to go by the potential is endless.

I urge other businesses to take stock of their current operations and means of growth, and look beyond the traditional strategies as it is through progressive approaches like OBM that the combination of business growth and employee satisfaction can be achieved.

And with more uncertainty heading our way, now is the time to start.

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The Impact of Covid-19 on Planning

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The Impact of Covid-19 on Planning 2

By Nilly Essaides, Sherri Liao and Gilles Bonelli, The Hackett Group

The economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak vary by country and company, but one common factor is that most financial planning and analysis (FP&A) teams have had to go back to the drawing board to revise their forecasting process and update scenario plans. The unprecedented level of disruption in business conditions compels FP&A to abandon their traditional, tedious, bottom-up forecasting processes to produce forward-looking insights faster and more frequently. To accomplish this, FP&A should deploy high-level, cross-functional teams that, by working with a small number of KPIs, can assess how different scenarios are playing out in the market and recalibrate the business outlook.

Forecasting at the speed of change

The human and economic devastation caused by the rapid spread of Covid-19 upended budgets and rendered performance targets obsolete. At most companies, even worst-case scenarios did not account for an event of this magnitude – and for some, their very survival is on the line.

Under normal conditions, forecasting and scenario planning are distinct activities. Forecasting is about understanding where the business is landing compared to expectations (monthly, quarterly or on a rolling basis); scenario planning considers what could happen to the organization given one or more material changes in the business environment. At present, the line between the two is blurring as circumstances can change so fast that it is no longer possible to create a forecast based on past data. In addition, scenario plans must be reviewed frequently to ascertain which are becoming more likely.

Consequently, FP&A teams must exchange their traditional bottom-up, granular approach with a top-down, high-level methodology and conduct the forecast more frequently – but few are set up to accommodate this new process. More often, forecasting involves an all-consuming effort to collect data from business units and functions. To enable a more rapid response, FP&A should assemble a senior-level, cross-functional “SWAT” team with the mandate to review a limited number of KPIs (five to six, at most) in order to build a forecast that can be altered quickly as trigger events validate or disprove scenario plans.

This small team of experts can triage activities effectively while assigning specific areas of responsibility to more junior staff, such as forecasting working capital or discretionary spending. These specialists should work with a set of more granular KPIs. So, while the SWAT team may use a single cash metric, the working-capital team would dive deeper into DSO, DPO and inventory levels.

The first step is to alter the forecasting process, and the next is to adjust the feedback loop created through the management review meeting. Typically, these meetings focus mostly on BU-by-BU, actual-to-forecast and actual-to-budget variance analysis, using historical data. However, for many organizations – particularly those that have experienced a major reset of market demand and ongoing operations – spending time looking back at low-level comparative narratives is unproductive.

Instead, management should spend the bulk of its time reviewing the company’s best-case, minimum-viability and worst-case scenarios to determine which one seems to be playing out. To make sure planners target the right activities, management must ask the right questions: not how the company performed versus budget, but how conditions have changed and how that affects the forecast for emerging supply and demand scenarios.

A revised approach to identifying scenarios

For planning purposes, most companies develop three scenarios: base, best and worst. Given the nature of the Covid-19 crisis, a revised set of scenarios is needed:

  1. Best-case scenario: The best-case scenario should be anchored within tested hypotheses and initially focus on an assessment of demand conditions and capacity constraints. Current data may be mostly qualitative, but it should include insights gleaned from other countries and regions, particularly those exhibiting early signs of recovery.
  2. Minimum-viability scenario: This is the “new” base for companies hard-hit by the crisis or the scenario with minimum acceptable results to key stakeholders while remaining in business. This scenario must include a set of potential cost-reduction options in case conditions deteriorate rapidly. For instance, a minimum-viability scenario may include an X% reduction in workforce based on demand and supply projections.
  3. Worst-case scenario: The coronavirus pandemic may pose an existential risk to some organizations, so FP&A teams must also develop a scenario based on the worst possible conditions, including circumstances that may put the company out of business. In this case, FP&A should identify and monitor indicators that pose the greatest threat to the company’s status as a going concern.

Digging deeper into each scenario

Each key market or country or region should be categorized according to a variety of possible GDP growth scenarios.

A U-shaped recovery assumes the fastest rebound in key countries where GDP quickly reaches or nears pre-Covid-19 levels. These will be geographies where evidence of fast, effective control of the virus’s spread is combined with a strong policy response to prevent structural damage to the area’s economy.

Gilles Bonelli, Associate Principal, The Hackett Group

Gilles Bonelli, Associate Principal, The Hackett Group

A W-shaped recovery assumes a quick, partial recovery followed by a second wave decline in GDP in key countries or regions. These will be cases where evidence of fast, effective control of the virus’s spread is not accompanied by a strong policy response to prevent structural damage to the national economy.

An L-shaped recovery assumes that there will be no rebound in GDP. These will be countries or regions where there is no evidence of effective control of the virus’s spread.

The team should identify specific actions to be taken under each scenario so that management can act as economic conditions unfold. Additionally, FP&A must determine how changes in the environment may affect the company’s commercial and SG&A functions. Further, the trajectory of GDP will vary, driven by the public health and economic response of each country or region. Both inputs will be critical as companies determine how to proceed.

Due to the interdependence of different markets, it is important to consider elements of each in the entire strategic portfolio’s value chain. If a component of the value chain in any strategic portfolio is reliant on activities taking place in countries where a U-shape recovery is expected, then this component should attract more investment compared to those in countries where a slower recovery is likely.

If a component of the value chain in any strategic portfolio is reliant on activities taking place in countries where a W-shape recovery is expected, then investment in this component should be maintained. Accordingly, if a component of the value chain is directed to markets in countries where an L-shape recovery is expected, consider gradually divesting from the portfolio and phasing out related activities.

A catalyst for change

Covid-19 has underscored the discrepancy in planning and analytics capability between top-performing and typical peer-group FP&A organizations. The Hackett Group’s 2018 EPM Performance Study revealed that top-performing FP&A organizations have invested more in technology, which has enabled them to run more analysis and deliver reporting faster and more efficiently. Of top performers, 67% have implemented a primary financial planning and forecasting system to consolidate corporate and country, region or BU information.

Consequently, top-performing teams complete the forecast 3.5 times faster than the peer group and are twice as accurate. These capabilities are essential, as FP&A must provide information more quickly to help make operational decisions. Further, top performers have automated more of their data collection processes and use a standard set of data definitions across categories 92% of the time. This means their staff spend 44% more time analyzing data than collecting it, meaning that the team can redirect capacity to focus on Covid-19-driven demands for information and analysis.

While adoption of rolling forecasts remains generally low, top performers are 55% more likely to have done so than the peer group. Consequently, they can transition more easily from a fixed budget to planning based on a dynamic forecast. Additionally, one-third of forecasts among this group already rely on cross-functional collaboration, almost double the rate of the peer group.

Planning in the age of Covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic’s immediate and long-term repercussions will have a lasting effect on the way organizations plan and forecast, as well as how they approach scenario analysis. Early in the crisis, most FP&A teams had to scramble to adjust forecasting cadence, redraw scenarios, identify new KPIs and establish cross-functional emergency action teams. In contrast, FP&A top performers were able to adjust their existing processes relatively easily.

As companies start to shift from crisis mode to operationalizing changes required by the pandemic, post-crisis scenarios are starting to take shape. Expectations are for a prolonged period of uncertainty and a second wave of infections this fall, however, which makes it imperative that FP&A organizations update their approach to scenario planning immediately.

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Covid-19 can reboot belt and road initiative towards a sustainable future

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Covid-19 can reboot belt and road initiative towards a sustainable future 3
  • A new CMS report reveals that Covid-19 has boosted Chinese enthusiasm for adopting the principles of BRI 2.0, leading to an increased focus on sustainable and environmentally friendly projects such as smart cities and renewables & hydro
  • The appetite for an improved ‘Health Silk Road’ has significantly increased among the majority of both international and Chinese senior executives involved in BRI
  • Meanwhile, the research uncovers a clear mismatch in sentiment between Chinese and non-Chinese towards BRI and the success of projects

As global economies strive to build back better and greener from the global pandemic, global law firm CMS’s 2020 Belt and Road Initiative report reveals that the pandemic has boosted Chinese enthusiasm for adopting the principles of BRI 2.0, which will pivot it towards an environmentally friendly future.

BRI 2.0 is a new phase of BRI intended to encourage international involvement, which was announced in April 2019 by President Xi Jinping at the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.

The study was conducted in partnership with global research firm Acuris and TianTong Law Firm and included a major survey of 500 senior executives from both Chinese and international participants in BRI projects. Their views were sought on a range of issues around BRI, including likely future involvement and obstacles they have encountered to date.

Increased enthusiasm for sustainable projects

The research found that nearly two-thirds of both Chinese (63%) and international (62%) executives agree that it is important that their BRI projects should be sustainable and environmentally friendly. Furthermore, the majority (84%) of Chinese respondents believe that sustainability and environmental considerations will be given greater importance when planning and completing BRI 2.0 projects.

Enthusiasm remains for traditional sectors like logistics, roads and rail, and now, particularly among Chinese executives, there is growing interest in relatively new sectors like energy networks and power grids, smart cities and renewables & hydro. For international respondents, the emphasis on sustainable projects is also increasing, with only a handful (13%) previously involved in renewables and hydro but nearly three times as many (34%) planning to target the sector for future opportunities.

Importantly, CMS’s research reveals that Covid-19 has given a boost to the ‘Health Silk Road’, which aims to increase medical infrastructure and public health in BRI countries. Nearly all the international executives (93%) and 85% of Chinese respondents see Covid-19 as a major catalyst for it.

Munir Hassan, Head of CMS Energy Group, said: “It’s clear that interest in more ‘modern’ and sustainable sectors, such as smart cities, healthcare and renewables has increased in significance. Renewables projects typically require less capital commitment, are quicker to complete and are likely to be judged at lower risk, which will be attractive to international and Chinese participants. As efforts to limit climate change intensify, there will be a major role for BRI investments to play.”Covid-19 can reboot belt and road initiative towards a sustainable future 4

Mismatch between Chinese and non-Chinese views

The research reveals that general sentiment towards BRI has declined in the last 12 months and one reason for this is geopolitical uncertainty, particularly among international participants. The survey has also uncovered a clear mismatch between views of Chinese and international executives that are involved in BRI projects.

Over two-thirds (69%) of international respondents said they found the process of participating in BRI related projects more challenging than they had expected, compared to just 40% of Chinese respondents. Likewise, only 37% of international participants said they were satisfied with the process and outcome of their involvement, compared to the majority (75%) of Chinese equivalents.

International participants have experienced difficulty with transparency, information flow and equality in partnerships and for many, this had impacted their view of BRI. But there are signs that more projects are now being structured to accommodate these concerns providing attractive opportunities for those international participants still keen on BRI involvement.

Regarding future partnerships / JVs, Chinese respondents are more enthusiastic than non-Chinese, with 77% likely to consider them, compared to just under half of non-Chinese (48%).

Munir Hassan added: “A key area of growth is likely to lie in projects that meet the trends of the future. Affordable projects, embracing modern technologies and methods, as well as the “open, green and clean” approach of BRI 2.0, will be those that stand the greatest chance of success.”

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