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ICBC Standard Bank releases Belt and Road analysis

By Angus McNeice in London | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-07-05 00:04

London-based ICBC Standard Bank launched on Tuesday what it calls the first comprehensive data set measuring the health and connectivity of the economies along the Belt and Road, President Xi Jinping's signature international development and infrastructure plan.

The ICBC Belt and Road Economic Indices, compiled in partnership with Oxford Economics, were created to address the lack of an existing standardized framework for comparing Belt and Road countries.

Liu Xiaoming, China's Ambassador to the UK, said the China-UK collaboration would help the Belt and Road Initiative continue to deliver economic benefits along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

The two indices - the ICBC Belt and Road Economic Health Index and the ICBC Belt and Road China Connectivity Index - will be updated regularly, allowing stakeholders to assess the impact of Belt and Road projects in member nations over time.

The Belt and Road Initiative has led to a mobilization of resources to 65 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. Updated monthly, the Economic Health Index provides individual country indicators, helping investors to make informed decisions.

Jinny Yan, chief China economist at ICBC Standard Bank, said: "We're learning as we go, but this promises to be, as far as we are aware, the first and only comprehensive data source on the Belt and Road economies."

The inaugural index found that, despite sovereign and external risk at multi-year highs, economic health is at a decade high driven by an improvement in market fundamentals.

The top macro-performers fall into two categories. The "big three" of China, India, and Vietnam – large emerging markets with strong growth prospects; and the "nimble four" of Qatar, Singapore, Estonia and the United Arab Emirates – smaller markets with good quality investment climates.

Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) currently enjoys the highest average economic health score across the Belt and Road regions, with the Middle East and North Africa region lagging towards the bottom due to a prolonged period of low oil prices and recent geopolitical tension.

The China Connectivity Index will be updated twice a year and is designed to track economic connectivity between China and Belt and Road economies by monitoring activity across trade, capital, and the movement and employment of people.

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