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  • President Xi Jinping gives a speech at the Friendship Palace in Beijing, China April 26, 2019.

    President Xi Jinping gives a speech at the Friendship Palace in Beijing, China April 26, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 27 April 2019

Germany says EU nations shouldn't join Belt and Road alone, but as a united trade bloc. More than US$64 billion in deals signed during the Belt and Road summit.

Germany's Economy Minister Peter Altmaier says that the major countries of the European Union (EU) should sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a bloc, rather than individually.

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During this week's New Silk Road Forum held in Beijing, Altmaier urged EU countries to sign onto the China project as a trade bloc. 

Currently, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Portugal have individual agreements with China to be a part of the country's international New Silk Road project.

During the last EU-China summit held in Brussels April 9, EU leaders did not make it clear that Europe may be willing to participate in the massive infrustructural program.. According to the high-ranking German, Europe is now, "in its great majority" united in its belief that "we can only implement our positions together." 

Altmaier added: "The big European countries have agreed that we will not sign MoUs individually but rather between the EU and China," adding he had asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to commit himself to the promotion of multilateralism and sustainable development.

The announcement was a major change in the EU foreign policy just one month before its populations votes in the newest EU parliament at the end of May. 

During the BRI forum, the German minister said that most European governments prefer to sign together because a joint negotiation would benefit the bloc as a whole. It would also be a blow to the United States administration under President Donald Trump that has instigated and incited trade wars with China, Russia, and Iran, and is currently threatening to apply hefty tariffs on European imports. French President Emmanuel Macron has said the union should not enter trade agreements with the U.S. for leaving the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The Belt and Road Initiative is a Chinese investment plan to create infrastructure and communication networks across the globe. Chinese President Xi Jinping just announced that the BRI forum solidified another US$64 billion in deals.

The EU's participation in the BRI would represent a sign of success for China and be a significant political, economic and diplomatic setback for the U.S.

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In addition to involving ports, roads, railways and airports, the BRI seeks to standardize trade norms and regulate economic disputes in new courts.

Often referred to as the "New Silk Road", the BRI aims to allow all member nations to compete in trade equally.​ Some EU Commision has said China a threat to its regional security, the Asian powerhouse offers an increasingly large middle class market.

Altmaier's announcement does not imply that the EU has made an official agreements with Beijing. European sources told the Argentinean newspaper Clarin told that "the EU as a bloc is not officially studying joining the Chinese initiative yet. But the German proposal will create discussion," said the source.

“More and more friends and partners will join in Belt and Road,” President Xi said on Saturday, adding that “cooperation is higher and prosects are bright. All of this shows that BRI cooperation is synchronized with the times, widely supported, people centered and beneficial to all,” said the head of state.

Previous data showed that BRI projects have already reached US$3.67 trillion.

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