Laos: Policy paper assesses labour, environmental and social safeguards of Kunming-Singapore railway project under Belt and Road Initiative

Author: Scott Morris, Center for Global Development, Published on: 21 May 2019

“The Kunming-Vientiane Railway: The Economic, Procurement, Labor, and Safeguards Dimensions of a Chinese Belt and Road Project”, 17 May 2019

The Kunming-Vientiane (K-V) railway, part of the Kunming-Singapore multi-country rail network (or “Pan-Asia Railway”), is an anchor investment of the Chinese government’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI). This case study will assess the rail project along four dimensions: economic implications; procurement arrangements; labor; and environmental and social safeguards. In each of these areas, evidence from the railway project suggests that Chinese policy and practice could be better aligned with the practices of other sources of multilateral and bilateral development finance. Where the project’s standards are broadly aligned, at least in principle, there is nonetheless reason to believe that China’s approach carries heightened risks given the overall scale of financing… This study considers what a stronger set of standards would look like in the context of the four areas of focus.

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