Stan­dard, ICBC back Chi­nese firms in Africa’s B&R mar­kets

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By CAI XIAO caix­iao@chi­

Stan­dard Bank, Africa’s largest lender, and In­dus­trial and Com­mer­cial Bank of China, the coun­try’s largest lender, have teamed up to ex­tend loans and for­eign ex­change ser­vices to Chi­nese com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing in African coun­tries that are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

“African gov­ern­ments and en­ter­prises wel­come the ini­tia­tive as it of­fers mu­tual ben­e­fits,” said Vic­tor Wil­liams, ex­ec­u­tive head of cor­po­rate and in­vest­ment bank­ing of African re­gion at Stan­dard Bank. “Africa’s re­sources and its huge mar­ket can com­bine with China’s ad­vanced tech- nolo­gies, high-qual­ity prod­ucts and suf­fi­cient funds.

“As Africa’s largest bank, we are join­ing hands with ICBC to ex­ploit op­por­tu­ni­ties brought by the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, thereby ex­pand­ing our fi­nan­cial ser­vices.” Stan­dard Bank and ICBC had reached strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion in 2008, and since then have par­tic­i­pated in more than 30 pro­grams. They were worth more than $20 bil­lion by the end of last year.

As part of the joint ini­tia­tive, ICBC of­fered $6.9 bil­lion in loans and Stan­dard Bank $1.6 bil­lion.

Gao Wenyue, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Stan­dard Bank China, said, “We’ve helped ICBC carry out for­eign ex­change ser­vices in all Belt and Road coun­tries in Africa.”

Gao said Stan­dard Bank is also de­vel­op­ing the ren­minbi set­tle­ment busi­ness in Africa. “We can of­fer ren­minbi ser­vices in all of our branches in Africa.”

The bank, he said, has launched ser­vices to freely ex­change the shilling (lo­cal cur­rency) for Chi­nese cur­rency notes in Kenya and Uganda. “We’ ll ex­pand this ser­vice to more coun­tries.”

Jeremy Stevens, Bei­jing­based China econ­o­mist at Stan­dard Bank, said China’s State-owned en­ter­prises as well as small and medi­um­sized en­ter­prises are ex­plor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties pre­sented by the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

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