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Standard, ICBC back Chinese firms in Africa's B&R markets

By CAI XIAO | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-08 09:46

Standard Bank, Africa's largest lender, and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country's largest lender, have teamed up to extend loans and foreign exchange services to Chinese companies operating in African countries that are participating in the Belt and Road Initiative.

"African governments and enterprises welcome the initiative as it offers mutual benefits," said Victor Williams, executive head of corporate and investment banking of African region at Standard Bank. "Africa's resources and its huge market can combine with China's advanced technologies, high-quality products and sufficient funds.

"As Africa's largest bank, we are joining hands with ICBC to exploit opportunities brought by the Belt and Road Initiative, thereby expanding our financial services." Standard Bank and ICBC had reached strategic cooperation in 2008, and since then have participated in more than 30 programs. They were worth more than $20 billion by the end of last year.

As part of the joint initiative, ICBC offered $6.9 billion in loans and Standard Bank $1.6 billion.

Gao Wenyue, managing director of Standard Bank China, said, "We've helped ICBC carry out foreign exchange services in all Belt and Road countries in Africa."

Gao said Standard Bank is also developing the renminbi settlement business in Africa. "We can offer renminbi services in all of our branches in Africa."

The bank, he said, has launched services to freely exchange the shilling (local currency) for Chinese currency notes in Kenya and Uganda. "We'll expand this service to more countries."

Jeremy Stevens, Beijing-based China economist at Standard Bank, said China's State-owned enterprises as well as small and medium-sized enterprises are exploring opportunities presented by the Belt and Road Initiative.

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