The Belt and Road Forum in Beijing was a popular destination the countries along OBOR are developing states that are poised to benefit tremendously from the capital, technology, infrastructure and personnel input of the initiative and AIIB.
Take Malaysia for example, as a trusted strategic partner of China, we have jumped on the OBOR bandwagon to emerge as the first and truly significant beneficiary of this ambitious initiative.
President Xi Jinping has stressed peaceful cooperation, accommodativeness, mutual learning and mutual benefit in a bid to engage European countries in AIIB. Washington, meanwhile, has also softened its erstwhile resistant stance to join OBOR. This shows that the epoch-making initiative is indeed brimming with possibilities and hopes.
But it wasn't just countries that were represented, it was banks too. Quite a lot of them it seems Among the banks sending top-ranking staff to Beijing to court that business were HSBC, represented by Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver, Standard Chartered, with Chairman Jose Vinals, and executives from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse and more.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China’s largest bank, hosted a round table attended by executives and bankers from Silk Road states.
The global banks, trying to crack mainland China in the face of local competition, see an opportunity.
HSBC and others have used the Silk Road in advertising, and speak enthusiastically of leveraging their capital markets expertise.
HSBC, which has an edge over other foreign banks in China due to its Hong Kong heritage and which makes more than half of its profits in Asia, sees the Belt and Road initiative as a key business opportunity.
Societe Generale’s chief country officer in China, Anne Marion-Bouchacourt, says foreign banks are keen to support Chinese corporates and Belt and Road projects, but need clarity around issues like tax, financial planning and risk management.
‘OBOR means a lot of opportunities for commercial banks, but the context in which all of these happen has still to be further defined and clarified, she said.