Romania, Bulgaria seek China’s support for third Danube bridge

Romania, Bulgaria seek China’s support for third Danube bridge
A new bridge is planned between Ruse (Bulgaria) and Giurgiu (Romania) as traffic between the two countries increases.
By bne IntelliNews April 25, 2018

The third bridge over Danube between Romania and Bulgaria will be part of a package that four Balkan countries — Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece — will offer China for funding, the prime ministers of Bulgaria and Romania reportedly agreed in principle on April 24 at the four-country meeting held in Bucharest, 24Chasa reported.

The bridge will be built between the Romanian city of Giurgiu and the Bulgarian city of Ruse. It would be the second bridge between the two cities but it is needed due to the rising volume of traffic between the two countries. The cost of the project is estimated at €200mn-250mn.

This would be part of an effort to push up China’s involvement in infrastructure projects in the region under the 16+1 format. China's outbound foreign direct investment in CEE remains so far modest and concentrated in just a few countries, associate professor at the University of Sydney Salvatore Babones concluded on a rather sceptical note in a piece for Forbes on the occasion of the summit held under the format last year in Budapest. The headline list of projects completed to date seems to consist of a bridge in Serbia and two roads in Macedonia — and little else, according to Babones.

China and the 16 central and eastern European countries will meet under the 16+1 format in Sofia in early July. The 16+1 grouping links China with 16 central and eastern European (CEE) countries, 11 of them members of the EU. Ahead of that, the four Balkan countries will meet in Thessaloniki by the end of June, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said.

At the third meeting of the Balkan Four format in Bucharest, the four countries agreed on common major infrastructure projects to be included in the 16+1 talks with the view of getting financing. The previous meetings of the Balkan Four countries were held in Varna and Belgrade last year.

The main projects refer to the railway corridor from the Mediterranean ports in Greece to Bulgaria’s Black sea ports Varna and Bourgas, to be continued to Bucharest and Belgrade. The other two major infrastructure projects are the natural gas interconnection between Bulgaria and Greece and the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal built for importing LNG from Qatar in Greece at Alexandroupolis.

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