OBOR is already seeing major infrastructure investments in across Africa, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia.
“It’s a positive story for the markets,” Nigel Anton, global head shipping finance for Standard Chartered Bank said at the Marine Money Asia conference in Singapore on Tuesday.
Fellow banker, Christos Tsakonas, ceo of DNB Asia, noted that OBOR investments were real with some $20bn invested last year by Chinese port infrastructure. He saw OBOR as very positive for shipping, especially dry bulk, with a it mapping out a 50-year infrastructure programme. While there is the talked about threat from pipeline infrastructure for oil and gas shipping this was only seen as a medium to long-term impact.
Lawyer Rosita Lau, a partner with Ince & Co , believes that OBOR is an extension of what had already been happening for a quite some time with Chinese investments. She also believed that bulk shipping would grow as a result of the policy. Lau noted movements such as cement cargoes from China to Sri Lanka and other ports around the world, as well as China’s second largest steel trading exporting cargoes.
Academic Stavros Tsolais, professor of maritime economics and ship finance at Singapore Management University, saw both good and bad sides to OBOR.
“On the one hand its excellent for shipping because it creates a lot of demand,” he said.
However, on the other hand he warned of giant projects in the middle of the desert that will not make any money, drawing a parallel with China’s ghost cities, where entire new towns and cities remain unoccupied.