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ICBC leads in finance projects on trade routes

By LI XIANG | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-11 07:46

ICBC leads in finance projects on trade routes

Zhang Hongli, vice-president of ICBC [Photo provided to China Daily]

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world's biggest bank by assets, is taking the lead in promoting cooperation among a wide range of international financial institutions in financing projects under the Belt and Road Initiative.

The bank is talking to more than 20 international financial institutions, including commercial lenders, policy banks and multilateral development agencies, to jointly "capture" business opportunities in the countries and regions involved in the initiative, said Zhang Hongli, vice-president of ICBC.

"Many banks want to jump on board and there are many issues that are common to all the banks. So there is a huge desire to work together," Zhang said in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

"There are discussions among the banks on what they can do as a banking community to capture opportunities offered by the Belt and Road Initiative," Zhang said, adding that the ICBC is committed to more dialogue and greater cooperation with other financial institutions.

Analysts said the move by ICBC highlighted China's desire to promote cooperation to expand investment channels and to ensure sustainable financing for projects under the initiative.

Xu Hongcai, deputy chief economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said forming an alliance of financial institutions for the Belt and Road Initiative would create a resource-sharing platform for the banks and help them diversify project risks.

"Big infrastructure projects often require massive funding and extensive due diligence and risk assessment. An alliance among the financial institutions will allow them exchange information and help reduce the negotiation cost and ensure the sustainability of the funding," Xu said.

Huang Jianhui, a researcher with China Minsheng Bank, said creating a flexible and cooperative financing mechanism for the Belt and Road Initiative would help attract greater investment as it would allow potential investors to see the commercial value and potential returns of the projects.

Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China, said earlier it was necessary to enrich the funding channels and to mobilize market forces and local resources.

That was because government funding would not be sufficient to finance the initiative, which involves massive construction of infrastructure projects and industrial cooperation.

The initiative, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, could draw investments worth as much as $502 billion into countries and regions participating in the initiative over the next five years, Credit Suisse Group AG said in a report.

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