BEIJING — China has made significant headway in the development of the Belt and Road Initiative with the country’s further opening up, according to Standard Chartered Bank.
China is seeing stronger trade links with Belt and Road countries while its outbound investment and project construction have accelerated along the network, said a Standard Chartered global research report.
In 2017, China’s nonfinancial outbound direct investment in 59 Belt and Road countries amounted to $14.4 billion, latest data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.
The value of newly signed contracts by Chinese enterprises in 61 Belt and Road countries surged 14.5 percent year-on-year to $144.3 billion in 2017.
“We have seen a steady increase in our own activity in the Belt and Road region,” said Bill Winters, Standard Chartered Group chief executive, positive about the market potential under the initiative.
China will work toward building major international corridors and increase cooperation in streamlining customs clearance along the routes, said the Government Work Report delivered to the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress.
A multi-tier financing mechanism under the initiative is placing focus on development financing and financing from commercial banks, according to Winters.
With branches and offices in 45 Belt and Road markets which cover almost 70 percent of its global footprint, Standard Chartered announced in 2017 it will support the Belt and Road by facilitating financing of at least $20 billion by 2020.
According to Winters, the company is aligned with the initiative, including “casting an economic influence from China to other parts of the world to benefit the broader community.”
Belt and Road investments are being seen in increasingly diversified sectors, with a growing presence of privately owned enterprises as well as small and medium-sized businesses, said Jerry Zhang, executive vice-chairman and CEO of Standard Chartered China.
The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is considered pivotal in the coordination of the Belt and Road and is also now a priority for Standard Chartered in China.
China will unveil and implement the development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, among other moves to promote coordinated regional development of the country this year, said the government work report.
The “collective ecosystem” combines China’s innovation center, biggest financial center, and global manufacturing hub, Benjamin Hung, the bank’s regional CEO for greater China and north Asia and CEO of retail banking, told Xinhua.
“Nowhere in the world are these three components within a 45-minute traveling radius via high-speed rail,” he said.
The Greater Bay Area could be an ideal location to explore FinTech development and provide cutting-edge digital banking services for Chinese companies that represent China’s new economy, according to a Standard Chartered report.
Standard Chartered Bank marks its 160th anniversary of operations in China in 2018.
“As a participator, contributor, and beneficiary of China’s 40 years of reform and opening-up, we are committed to continuing to participate in the opening-up and reform, and contributing to China’s sustained economic development for the next 160 years,” added Winters.