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Monday, January 14, 2019, 22:47
Opportunities, risks feature high at Asian Financial Forum in HK
By Prime Sarmiento and Yang Han
Monday, January 14, 2019, 22:47 By Prime Sarmiento and Yang Han

                                   

HONG KONG – Leaving no-one behind in common pursuit of sustainable development remains a heavy but committed goal amid challenges facing global economy this year.

A sustainable and more inclusive finance system is crucial for the growth of global economy which is now grappling with various headwinds, speakers said at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong on Monday.

As a global hub, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region can tap its leading role in the region in braving the winds, they added.

IN PICTURES: Asian Financial Forum 2019 opens in Hong Kong

The US-China trade tensions, the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union and monetary policies are among the challenges facing the global economy, requiring all sectors to act now to promote social development, environmental protection and coordinated governance.

Economic growth makes sense when it achieves all its dimensions. 

Jin Liqun, President, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

According to Jin Liqun, president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), economic growth should go beyond GDP figures. 

“Economic growth makes sense when it achieves all its dimensions,” he said during the opening of the two-day forum. “What does 9 percent growth really mean, if 3 percent of it comes from polluting activities, while another 3 percent comes from cleaning it up?”

“We got to think beyond GDP,” he said, encouraging nations to prevent pollution and design green development at first hand.

Saying that AIIB has set up a US$500 million portfolio to purchase bonds issued to finance sustainable infrastructure investments, Jin said the investments have to conform to environmental, social and governance criteria.

He said AIIB should be “lean, clean and green” in blazing its own trails. It aims for effectiveness without heavy bureaucracy, tolerates no corruption, and goes for ecology friendly investments.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Hong Kong is developing itself into a regional hub for green finance through its efforts to engage in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with strength and vision. 

The city will soon launch its green bond with a borrowing ceiling of HK$100 billion, she added.

HKTDC Chairman Vincent Lo said the BRI provides a framework to enable economic and social activities regionally and globally and will create a sustainable and inclusive future.

The annual forum, with the theme “Creating a Sustainable and Inclusive Future”, is organized by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. Over 3,000 banking and industry participants from around the world attended it.

(From Left) James Lau, JP, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury; Jin Liqun, President of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; Wang Zhaoxing, Vice President, China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission; Lim Guan Eng, Finance Minister of Malaysia; Pierre Gramegna, Minister of Finance, and Luxembourg and Michael D’Arcy, minister of state at the Department of Finance, Ireland, attend the first day of Asian Financial Forum 2019 at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Jan 14, 2019. (ROY LIU / CHINA DAILY)

At the keynote luncheon, former World Bank president Robert Zoellick emphasized negotiations in solving US trade disputes with China. 

He also pointed out the need for countries to better understand how the BRI can contribute to their development.

China now is in the middle-income level struggling to make its own adjustment. The new Asian model will need to focus on new and different types of supply chains, he said.

The keynote luncheon featured welcome remarks by Paul Chan mo-po, HKSAR financial secretary, and the opening remarks by Bi Mingjian, CEO and chairman of Management Committee of China International Capital Corporation Ltd. 

China remains committed to sustainable finance, Wang Zhaoxing, vice president of China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission said while talking about China’s role in global action against climate change and continuous issuance of “green” bonds.

In his speech at the plenary session, Malaysia’s Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said his country encourages entrepreneurship and for the private sector to lead economic growth. Malaysia promotes inclusiveness and encourage collaboration among the government, private sector, professionals and its people in economic development, he added.

Saying that Ireland is a hub for finance technology in Europe, Michael D’Arcy, the country’s minister of state at the Department of Finance, noted that this technology can be leveraged to promote sustainability and inclusivity. 

Pierre Gramegna, minister of finance of Luxembourg, also brought European experiences in handling the downside of financial growth.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor delivers her speech during the opening day of Asian Financial Forum 2019 at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, Hong Kong, Jan 14-15, 2019. (ROY LIU / CHINA DAILY)

In a later session, Saeb Eigner, chairman of Dubai Financial Services Authority, Denis Beau, first deputy governor of the Banque de France, and Sergey Shvetsov, first deputy governor of Bank of Russia and Burkhard Balz, member of the Executive Board of Deutsche Bundesbank, explored issues concerning how to manage global financial risks and opportunities in 2019. They echoed roles of financial technology and improvements in regulation and security for innovation.

Talking at a panel discussion, president of the Dubai Business Women Council Raja Easa Al Gurg said “growth for all’ needs the concerted efforts of governments, companies, private businesses, and its people. 

John Flint, group chief executive of HSBC Holdings plc, reminded the audience of the damage to nature during the past 200 years of industrial revolution. It’s time to act on low-carbon economy and green investments to sustain human development, he said.

A dialogue with Tu Guangshao, vice chairman and president of the sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation, was also held late afternoon.  

The two-day forum covers a series of panels on economic risks and opportunities and feature Fintech Showcase, AFF Deal Flow Matchmaking Session, Global Investment zones that present Cambodia, Italy, Spain, Germany and other countries, and InnoVenture Salon.

The opening day ended with a cocktail reception which had Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po as the keynote speaker to expound on the city’s prospects in the new year.

China Daily is joining the event to host a roundtable discussion on the rapid growth of impact investing in Asia.

Panelists at the China Daily roundtable panel include Naina Subberwal Batra, CEO of the Singapore-based Asian Venture Philantrophy Network; Judy Chen, chairman of the Hong Kong Committee for United Nations Children’s Fund; Amy Lo, chairman and head for Greater China, UBS Wealth Management; Ronie Mak, managing director of RS Group; and Geert Peeters, executive director and CFO of CLP Holdings.

prime@chinadailyapac.com

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