Friday, June 25

US$240 billion funding for OBOR initiative


KUALA LUMPUR: Funding for the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, China’s game-changing development plan to link the country with the African, Asian and European continents, has gained some traction with accumulated pledges of about US$240 billion (US$1=RM4.28) to date.

The Asian Institute of Chartered Bankers (AICB) chairman, Tan Sri Azman Hashim, said the amount included the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s pool of about US$100 billion for the initiative.

“The Silk Road Fund, established by China, has about US$40 billion, while the New Development Bank has another US$100 billion earmarked for the initiative,” he said in his speech at the AICB Global Banking Conference yesterday.

He said various sectors in Malaysia stood to gain tremendously from the initiative, as the country’s need for infrastructure upgrades to attract larger foreign investors and stimulate economic growth would go hand in glove with OBOR’s objectives.

“We are seeing tangible progress being made on the ground through projects such as the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park, Pahang, the Melaka Gateway, the East Coast Rail Link and the Xiamen University Malaysia campus.

“Malaysia has also launched the world’s first Digital Free Trade Zone, together with the Alibaba Group and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corp, turning the country into a launchpad for internet-based companies wishing to penetrate the South-East Asian region,” he said.

Azman said closer economies ties between both countries also saw China becoming the top foreign investor in Malaysia, with investments worth US$10.84 billion last year.

He said China was also the biggest foreign backer in the local real estate projects, having invested almost US$2.1 billion to-date in projects which included improving and constructing new ports, establishing industrial parks and iconic urban development, power generation, train and rail line manufacturing, logistics, information and communication technology.

“Infrastructure development could receive a greater boost should Malaysia’s status as a global leader in Islamic finance be capitalised on further,” he said.

The two-day conference, themed ‘China’s Banking Industry – Opportunities for Growth’, which began today, is held by AICB in collaboration with the Tsinghua University, Beijing.

The conference aims to provide an engaging platform for industry participants to gain an in-depth understanding of the Chinese banking industry, including the opportunities, threats, financial policies, reforms and risk.  — Bernama