Executive Intelligence Review


Belt and Road Executive Group for Sweden Launched

Oct. 1, 2018 (EIRNS)—On Sept. 28, the newly-founded Belt & Road Initiative Executive Group for Sweden (BRIX) was launched during the prominent China-Sweden Business Forum, held in Stockholm. This year’s Business Forum was focussed on the Belt and Road Initiative.

Moderator Hussein Askary opened the event by invoking the Chinese saying “If you want to get rich, build a road first.” As chairman of the BRIX, Ulf Sandmark welcomed the hundred participants, explaining the objectives of the BRIX. Ambassador to Sweden of the People’s Republic of China Gui Congyou gave an enthusiastic opening address, praising the creation of the BRIX.

The authorities and media in Sweden have been oblivious to the Belt and Road so far, for which the China-Sweden Business Forum provided the insights necessary to change. BRIX will promote an open dialogue and greater awareness of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its benefits for Sweden. A most important point about the BRI is that it is not only about links to China, but that it is an initiative to promote global connectivity. All nations of the world are invited to participate on their own terms in the BRI. As the first speaker, BRIX Vice Chairman Stephen Brawer pointed to a world map, showing how all continents will be connected in the future, even with links reaching out to Australia. He described to the Sept. 3-4 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing, where high level representatives of 53 African nations linked up with the BRI to fulfill the African Union’s Agenda 2063 for a continent-wide modern infrastructure network ending poverty in the continent.

The Belt and Road should not be seen as only a “practical” transport system for trade, Kitty Smyth underlined in her presentation. Ms. Smyth, a U.K. strategy and PR senior advisor for Sino-European business relations, said that the BRI, since President Xi Jinping was launched it in 2013, also has a philosophical dimension of promoting harmony, which she depicted as, “to foster a new type of international relations” and “forge partnerships of dialogue with no confrontation, and of friendship rather than alliance.” She advised Sweden to establish permanent offices capable of developing long-term Belt and Road cooperation with China, just as the U.K. had done, with an office for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a regional cooperation called Northern Powerhouse, the all-parliamentary group and the government’s Permanent Envoy to the BRI.

The typical misunderstandings of the BRI in Swedish business circles were dissected by Ali Farmandeh, Chairman of the China-Sweden Business Council (CSBC). The BRI is much, much more than Chinese production of Swedish goods. The New Silk Road is also not something far away, as many in the Northern corner of Europe think. Among the 70 member states of the BRI, there are also neighbors in Europe, who are already building their parts of the world connectivity network, projects where Swedish businesses can take part immediately.

Working together with China is challenging to the Old World, Ying Wu, former student of engineering in Stockholm, who is now CEO of SinceUs Capital, explained in the final presentation. Turning many Swedish business habits upside down, she brought insightful and humorous examples of problems she has encountered in assisting Swedish clients to enter and expand in the Chinese market of 437 million e-commerce shoppers. She presented the case study of a Swedish brand Airnum, which she had helped to develop from an unknown to a best-selling brand, in only one year. These opportunities for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) are important to make well known as best practices; to further the understanding in Sweden of the importance of the BRI, and the opportunities for innovative businesses it opens up in so many countries worldwide.

The new association, the BRIX, emerged from the success of a May 30th seminar organized by the Schiller Institute on the Belt and Road, together with China Sweden Business Council, and diplomats from Asia and Africa. After the success of that seminar, the organizers and some participants, including Swedish entrepreneurs, decided to form an action group to promote the Belt and Road in Sweden.