Japan and the European Union has signed an infrastructure deal hoping to increase coordination of energy, transport and digital projects. Seen as an alternative from China’s Belt-and-Road initiative, Reuters reports.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told an EU-Asia forum in Brussels on Friday:
Whether it be a single road or a single port, when the EU and Japan undertake something, we are able to build sustainable, rules-based connectivity from the Indo-Pacific to the Western Balkans and Africa.
The agreement formalises Japan’s involvement in a new eurasian “connectivity” plan that will be supported by a €60bn EU development fund alongside private investors.
Abe also observed that “the sea route that leads to the Mediterranean and the Atlantic must be open.”
This is in response to China’s belt-and-road initiative which has sought to spread the emerging superpower’s influence across Eurasia. Since 2013, it has funded and facilitated infrastructure development in over sixty countries.
EU President Jean Claude Juncker described his desire to build infrastructure “without mountains of debt” or a reliance “on a single country”.
A Chinese-funded highway to link Montenegro’s Adriatic coast to its neighbour Serbia has so indebted Montenegro that the IMF has told the country it cannot finish the project.
In their 10-point accord, the EU and Japan promised to pay “utmost attention” to countries’ “fiscal capacity and debt-sustainability”.