“If the B3W proposed by the US president materializes, Nepal will have to take assistance through B3W as well.”
Kathmandu: US President Joe Biden announced an ambitious infrastructure project called the Build Back Better World (B3W) Partnership on June 13, at the concluding ceremony of G7 Summit. We made a “momentous commitment at the G-7 to help meet more than $40 trillion need that exists for infrastructure in the developing world,” he said. While mentioning that “China has its Belt and Road Initiative” and “there’s a much more equitable way to provide for the needs of countries around the world”, Biden said B3W is “a values-driven, high standard, transparent financing mechanism” through which it will “provide and support projects in four key areas—climate, health, digital technology and gender equity.”
In Nepal, the idea of B3W was first discussed briefly on June 25 during a book launch program at the Prime Minister’s official residence in Baluwatar. Speaking on the occasion, former Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali commented on “the BRI versus MCC debate” and said, “if the B3W proposed by the US president materializes, Nepal will have to take assistance through B3W as well.” “If Nepal benefits from the B3W program, I would say we need to be a part of it too. We need connectivity and infrastructure. We want to be connected with the world,” he had said.
In Nepali public sphere, B3W is likely to be discussed in relation to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), of which Nepal is already a member country. So what actually is B3W? Nepal Live Today digs out some details from available documents.
According to the Fact Sheet released by the White House, Build Back Better World is an “Affirmative Initiative for Meeting the Tremendous Infrastructure Needs of Low- and Middle-Income Countries.” It is “the bold new global infrastructure initiative…a values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership led by major democracies to help narrow the $40+ trillion infrastructure need in the developing world.” Through B3W, the G7 and other like-minded partners aim to ” coordinate in mobilizing private-sector capital in four areas of focus—climate, health, and health security, digital technology, and gender equity and equality”, says the Fact Sheet. “B3W will be global in scope, from Latin America and the Caribbean to Africa to the Indo-Pacific.” The Fact Sheet further says that the US as a lead partner in B3W “will seek to mobilize the full potential of our development finance tools, including the Development Finance Corporation, USAID, EXIM, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.”
In Nepali public sphere, B3W is likely to be discussed in relation to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), of which Nepal is already a member country. So what actually is B3W?
So far, the financing modality of B3W as well as how the countries like Nepal will benefit from it is yet to be clear.
In Nepal, the MCC grant is in limbo due to the intra-party conflict in the erstwhile Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and in ruling CPN-UML. Many have linked the MCC with the Indo-Pacific Strategy of the US government, making it a matter of fierce public debate in recent years. As such, the B3W is likely to become a new topic of debate among Nepal’s political as well as intellectual circles.