Hong Kong makes stride to become infra financing hub

The island is set to launch an office that will facilitate investments in infrastructure projects under the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative.

Hong Kong is ramping up efforts to become a major infrastructure financing hub with the July launch of an office dedicated to facilitating ‘One Belt One Road’ projects.

Eddie Yue, deputy chief executive of Hong Kong Monetary Authority, said during a conference on the island that the Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office (IFFO) would act as a cluster for key stakeholders in the Chinese-led infrastructure plan.

The IFFO has received preliminary support from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the International Finance Corporation, Yue added.

Established by Hong Kong’s central bank, the office will provide investors, project sponsors, developers, professional advisors and relevant agencies from the ‘Belt and Road’ countries with a platform for project sourcing, financing and fund management.

“With the Mainland authorities implementing the ‘Belt and Road’ strategy to enhance connectivity within the region through increased infrastructure investments, there is likely to be an even greater financing requirement,” said Yue, adding that the ADB puts the overall infrastructure investment needs of Asia at $8 trillion over the 2010-2020 period.

The island has also been lobbying to join the AIIB as a sub-sovereign member and hopes to see the $100 billion lender set up an office in the city. The lender now has 57 members and hopes to grow the number of members to 100.

In addition to reviewing membership applications, the AIIB is also busy forming alliances with other multilateral institutions to get its first batch of projects off the ground.

Last week, the Beijing-led institution officially teamed with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to co-invest in a number of ventures. The two institutions have started working on their first joint project – a road linking Duschanbe, in Tajikistan, with the Uzbek border.

Earlier in April, the AIIB announced partnerships with the ADB and the World Bank, similarly aimed at co-investing in projects across the Eurasian region.

The AIIB plans to unveil its first batch of projects after its the next board meeting, which will take place on 25-26 June in Beijing.