Guangzhou, April 12, 2018 – The 2018 High Level Policy Forum on Global Governance: “Belt and Road” Finance and Investment Forum kicked off today in Guangzhou aimed to facilitate tangible exchanges, and create a strong network and forward-looking consensus on sustainable finance and investments along the Belt and Road (BRI).
Supported by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the milestone event was jointly organized by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and China Centre for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), with Outlook Weekly as the communication partner, and the Municipal Government of Guangzhou as the host. This year’s Forum was designed to facilitate policy dialogue among China and the countries along the Belt and Road, and promote policy coordination between public and private sectors, and among various regions, provinces and cities that have been engaging the BRI both nationally and internationally.
“The Belt Road Initiative, given its massive investments and financing flows, can potentially unlock the resources needed for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said Tegegnework Gettu, United Nations Under Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator at the opening of the Forum.
“As the needs to finance the 2030 Agenda are estimated at US$ 1 trillion annually at the global scale. A key challenge in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to allocate public resources and catalyze private investments in ways that are aligned with the SDGs. Therefore, it’s our responsibility to do more by exploring how these investments can trigger or support “accelerators” for SDGs implementation,” he added.
However, he also stressed that as the Belt and Road Initiative has entered its early harvest phase, China and the countries engaging the BRI still face major challenges in their attempt to promote financial cooperation. “It is important to recognize that investors and countries along the Belt and Road are still exposed to financial risks and liabilities, project failures, increasing public debt, a lack of capacity and transparency,” added Gettu.
Forum participants included UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator Tegegnework Gettu, more than ten minister, vice ministers and high level representatives from key countries along the Belt and Road including Bangladesh and Egypt, the Vice Chairman of the Boao Forum Zhou Xiaochuan, the vice president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) as well as other high level representatives from national and international financial institutions, and experts and representatives from development agencies, think tanks and the private sector.
“More and more countries and international organization are actively engaging in the Belt and Road Initiative. It has transformed from concept into actions, from visions into reality” said Mr. Zhou Xiaochuan, Vice Chairman of the Boao Forum for Asia in his keynote speech.
He noted that a diversified financial system is essential to support the Belt and Road Initiative. On one hand, it is necessary to meet the investment and financial needs as the annual investment gap for infrastructure in the Belt and Road countries has exceeds $600 billion.
On the other hand, he stressed, there is a need for a harmonized currency settlement system. “With regional integration and trade liberalization, we will see broader forms of cross-border cooperation taking place along the Belt and Road in fields such as energy, science and technology, and service. Such changes will further facilitate cross-border development in new industries, new types of business and new modalities,” he said.
“This cross-border cooperation will involve multiple countries, currencies and businesses and hence require a more effective and smooth system for capital clearing and settlement. In the meantime, a harmonized currency settlement system can serve as an effective means to mitigate currency risks in exchange rates and ensure the stability and security for investment within the region” he continued.
“We are at a critical stage of global governance reform and economic globalization. The global trend of peace, development, cooperation and win-win collaboration is irreversible. In this regard, China has been continuously seeking maximized common ground with different stakeholders, for better coordination and strengthened cooperation, in order to advance the global governance reform, ” said Zhang Xiaoqiang, the Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of CCIEE.
Today’s topics of discussions focused on financial collaboration and partnerships based on BRI’s early achievements; as well as reviewing the environment and mechanisms of sustainable investments along the Belt and Road. Cutting-edge issues such as the implications of artificial intelligence in driving technological innovations and tackling development challenges will be also discussed in during the Business Dialogue on April 13. This session is designed to further identify the opportunities the private sector and local authorities can provide given their increasingly significant role in implementing the BRI. Various business leaders from different part of the world will offer strategic insights during the dialogue.
Recognizing the role cities along the Belt and Road play in driving economic opportunities, this year’s Forum is held in Guangzhou, an integral part of the ‘Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area’ (GBA). With Guangzhou’s location and resource advantages in driving regional integration on port, manufacturing, service and innovation, the Forum aims to strengthen connectivity by creating a cooperation network of cities along the Belt and Road that capitalizes on their complementarities and synergies.
The insights and ideas of 2018 Global Governance Forum will be further collected as a knowledge product, which will feed into the critical thinking of next Belt and Road Forum in 2019.
Ms. ZHANG Wei, Chief Communications Officer, UNDP China
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