Hong Kong And Singapore To Provide “Bankability, Responsibility, and Interconnectedness” Throughout The Belt & Road Initiative

Posted by

Regional financial services professionals will need to have Asian and Gulf experience as the age of Western expat dominance declines.

Overview by Chris Devonshire-Ellis

The Ministerial level, 7th Belt and Road Summit Policy Dialogue is currently underway in Hong Kong, with an emphasis on improving infrastructure and developing a more integrated Asian region.

The theme of this year’s summit is “Heralding a New Chapter: Collaborate and Innovate”.

The annual summit is an international platform for senior government officials and business leaders to share insights and promote collaboration surrounding the Belt and Road Initiative. Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat used the BRI acronym (Belt and Road Initiative) to highlight the financial BRI – “Bankability, Responsibility, and Interconnectedness” as a route to further unlock Asia’s significant potential. Future projects must be well designed with robust business models, good financial models and governance. By ensuring bankability, they can generate sustained benefits for the communities, the economy and investors, he said.

As a financial centre, Singapore has been playing a constructive role with a full suite of professional services offerings and a good ecosystem of infrastructure players. Singapore has also strengthened mechanisms for international commercial dispute resolution, and both the World Bank and Asian Development Bank have operations in Singapore to support development.

Heng added that Singapore has created Infrastructure Asia, a government facilitation office set up by Enterprise Singapore and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, to co-create infrastructure solutions and promote collaboration in the region.

On responsibility, he said infrastructure projects must be sustainable as the climate crisis becomes more urgent. As co-chairs of the Belt and Road International Green Development Coalition, Singapore and China will work with partners on environmentally responsible development along the Belt and Road, he said, adding that “beyond infrastructure, there are opportunities for collaboration such as developing clean energy and decarbonisation solutions”.

As for interconnectedness, the BRI should also develop soft infrastructure including connectivity, he said. One such initiative is the world’s largest trade agreement – Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership – formed by ASEAN and other partners such as China.

The Hong Kong position appeared to agree. Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan, gave special remarks at the business plenary session titled “Collaborate for a Bright New Era”. He said that Hong Kong’s competitiveness as an international financial, trading and shipping centre is distinctive and unique, and elaborated on Hong Kong’s role in actively contributing to the Belt and Road Initiative in such areas as infrastructure financing, green finance, Renminbi business, risk management, and advancing environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives in the region.

Chan also said that Hong Kong is working to create strong impetus for growth and develop as an international innovation and technology hub, and there will be new policies and support measures to attract enterprises and talents.

Hong Kong’s Secretary for Justice, Paul Lam gave welcome remarks at a thematic breakout session and elaborated on how the full-fledged legal and dispute resolution services in Hong Kong can provide strong support for investors and the dispute resolution sectors in navigating new opportunities along the Belt and Road.

Stressing that Hong Kong is committed to improving its legal regime continuously to better serve the international community, as well as offering users a buffet of dispute resolution options catering to the diversified needs of different clients from around the world, Lam said “Hong Kong will continue to flourish and remain as the prime platform for businesses and practitioners to seize the golden opportunities that lie ahead along the Belt and Road”.

Singapore is well on the way to recovering from the Covid outbreak, whereas Hong Kong has had a more difficult time. However, things are easing up now and it can be expected that the territory will move into more positive dynamism into 2023. There are a number of Closer Economic Partnership Agreements that Hong Kong has with mainland China that will see it take a renewed role, including Wealth Connect and SWAP connect schemes that aim to provide China’s estimated US$3 trillion of private wealth access to international financial management. Some of that money will go into BRI investments and funds with a more pronounced focus on the Middle East. Less will flow to the West.

The same is also occurring in Singapore, and as far away as the Middle East’s Dubai, itself the third leg of a pan-Asian financial services hub that aims to facilitate trade and investment. Hong Kong’s role will be to handle the Chinese end, Singapore for ASEAN, and Dubai for Central Asia and the Middle East. Cooperating banks and financial management services will begin to develop as a result, with the new expertise required in Hong Kong and Singapore being less Western-focused but more driven by executives with proven Asian, Indian, Central Asian, Russian, and Middle Eastern experience.

Related Reading


About Us
Silk Road Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. As global geopolitics change the way supply chains are developing, we provide regional analysis of the emerging trends and where opportunities for foreign investors are. Our firm provides market research and intelligence for issues affecting all the Belt and Road Initiative countries with assistance from our wide business network of over 100 regional offices. To learn more about how we can help your business evaluate the changing dynamics, email us at silkroad@dezshira.com or visit www.dezshira.com