The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) conceived and launched by President Xi Jin Ping in 2013 contemplates an unprecedented partnership between law and business, knitting together roughly 65 countries from Asia to Europe. Unlike other groupings, such as the EU and ASEAN, the BRI is not driven by legal structures, however formal or loose, but by a desire to put law at the service of commerce to achieve operational results. There is therefore no Belt and Road charter or overarching founding document. Rather, there is an aspirational goal to enhance connectivity, commercial and cultural exchange and transnational economic development for international benefit in a manner where law and lawyers will most definitely play a part. Moreover, many of the BRI's operational objectives resonate with those of ASEAN's "pillars" and the related commitment to fully realising the potential of the ASEAN Economic Community. One question is how Singapore and ASEAN can participate in the BRI? The other, and perhaps more relevant question, is how the BRI can complement Singapore's national, and ASEAN's regional, objectives and what we as lawyers can do to further this potentially unprecedented and mutually beneficial cooperation? This introductory session will outline the BRI, highlighting both its promise as a spur to regional development and its potential risk as a project so ambitious that managing its scope and execution poses novel problems. In presenting this overview, the session will foreshadow those areas, risk management, international trade, dispute resolution, and infrastructure, where lawyers will most definitely have a key role to play, and which, not coincidentally, will form the basis of the four follow-on specialist seminars. Each seminar will further have an interactive component, so as to promote collective engagement and practical understanding.
Beginning with the overview, the BRI series foresees a set of panel discussions on topical legal issues designed to leverage the expertise of the Singapore legal community and to provide practical insight as to how lawyers and law firms can best work with the business community to maximize the opportunities and manage the risks inherent in the BRI. These seminars will endeavour to outline ways in which law can be placed at the service of commerce in a meaningful, operational and constructive fashion by casting lawyers as informed facilitators, that is deal-makers as opposed to deal-breakers, in those situations where an appropriate deal is to be done. The overview session on February 19 will lay the foundation for an examination of these multi-faceted issues to be carried out in the weeks and months to come, culminating with a capstone session in October 2019 in collaboration with Infrastructure Asia.
- Overview of the BRI on 19 February 2019
- International Trade and Investment Law and the BRI on 28 May 2019
- Risk Issues and Risk Management and the BRI on 27 August 2019
- Dispute Settlement and the BRI on 29 August 2019
- BRI and Infrastructure on 10 September 2019
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