Moldova is set to sign infrastructure deals with two Chinese contractors, according to the country's State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure — marking the first time Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative has expanded into the eastern European country.
In an interview with CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia" on Friday, Vitalie Iurcu said negotiations started several years ago, "and most probably this year, we should sign contracts" to build "almost 300 kilometers of roads in the Republic of Moldova."
The Belt and Road is a massive infrastructure network involving roads, railways and ports that seek to connect China to more than 60 countries across three continents: Asia, Europe and Africa.
The two Chinese companies — which some reports say are China Hyway Group and China Railway Group — will finance the bulk of Moldova's highway project. "85 percent will be financed by the Chinese partners, and 15 percent will be (the) contribution of the Moldovan government," Iurcu told CNBC.
Critics have said that the Belt and Road project not only benefits Chinese firms and helps Beijing gain political leverage, but the high costs of some investment projects could also weigh on the national debt and economies of developing countries.
When asked about some of these concerns — sometimes referred to as a "debt trap" — Iurcu said Moldova has already conducted "deep feasibility studies" to ensure that these projects are "feasible" and "payable."