2 SEP 2018
A development strategy driven by China which is centred on connectivity and cooperation, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) addresses the infrastructure gap and accelerating economic growth across Asia Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe.
Believed to be one of the largest infrastructure investment projects in history, covering more than 71 countries which represent a third of the worlds GDP, BRI has about $1 trillion worth of planned investments, including:
With an extensive scope, BRI aims to promote the flow of people, goods and services across Asia, Africa and Europe, and with the Middle East having a strategic position amongst these continents, China is keen on involving the region by funding construction of infrastructure projects that support BRI.
During China’s President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to the UAE, 13 strategic agreements were signed between the countries, all aiming to strengthen partnerships and bilateral cooperation across various sectors, with two agreements centred explicitly around collaboration on the Belt and Road Initiative.
The UAE is not the only part of the BRI investment plans in the Middle East. Another key project that China is keen on collaborating on is the construction of Kuwait’s Al-Harir City (Silk City) and the development of five uninhabited islands off the eastern coast of Kuwait. As part of the BRI, China is rebuilding a vast network of trading hubs around the world, stretching over the five islands in Kuwait which are expected to create thousands of jobs, and significantly boost the country’s GDP.
Another critical part of BRI’s Middle Eastern plans is Saudi Arabia, with China expressing interest in working with the country to assist them in fulfilling their goals for Saudi Vision 2030. This will aid the two countries in the development of various industries, including energy, mining, economy and trade, investment and tourism.
With significant infrastructure developments planned in the region, importance needs to be paid on avoiding protracted and costly disputes through the use of common international construction standards.
The Belt and Road Initiative cover a range of built assets and infrastructure types making it vital for parties to work towards common systems, platforms and delivery models. To drive efficiencies and mitigate risks of disputes, the application of common international standards becomes essential.
With $1 trillion as the estimated costs for projects spread over multiple jurisdictions, it is crucial that a consistent method of presenting costs is used, aligning national standards with universal frameworks such as the International Construction Measurement Standards (ICMS). This will allow projects to benchmark constructions costs consistently and transparently, identifying causes of difference in costs between projects, allowing for the early avoidance of issues.
Real estate is another sector where different measurement standards are used among nations, creating inconsistencies of up to 24% variances when measuring the same floor space. In an interconnected global marketplace, with projects involving parties from diverse backgrounds and practices, such variances lead to confusion and risk for all property owners, occupiers and investors, especially operating across borders. The International Property Measurement Standards (IPMS) Coalition aims to address this by expanding over-arching principles that can work across all specialisms of the built environment, including architecture and engineering.
Without such standards, accurately forecasting costs and comparing on a ‘like for like’ basis, driving transparency for cross-border projects would be challenging.