A big boost

World Bank says it backs Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO HUANXIN in Wash­ing­ton huanx­inzhao@ chi­nadai­lyusa.com

The World Bank sup­ports the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive and will work with coun­tries to lever­age the ini­tia­tive’s full ben­e­fits, Jim Yong Kim, pres­i­dent of the 189-mem­ber global body, said on Thurs­day in Wash­ing­ton.

“I think two things that the world needs very much right now are strong lead­er­ship and an em­brace of mul­ti­lat­eral ap­proaches to solv­ing dif­fi­cult prob­lems, and the BRI is both of those things,” Kim told a dis­cus­sion that is part of the on­go­ing an­nual meet­ings of the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund and the World Bank.

Dur­ing the an­nual meet­ings, an ar­ray of lead­ers ex­pressed strong sup­port and op­ti­mism for the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, launched by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping in 2013 and de­scribed as the largest in­fra­struc­ture project in his­tory, the World Bank said in a re­lease late on Thurs­day.

“Pres­i­dent Xi took the lead­er­ship to use his con­ven­ing power to bring the coun­tries and mul­ti­lat­eral de­vel­op­ment banks to­gether. That’s great, and I think more and more coun­tries will join over time,” Kim told the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive: Build­ing Bonds Across Asia, Europe and Be­yond panel dis­cus­sion.

The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive aims to build a trade and in­fra­struc­ture net­work con­nect­ing Asia with Europe and Africa along and be­yond the an­cient Silk Road trade routes.

Kim said: “What we built af­ter 1945 was the mul­ti­lat­eral sys­tem. The 1945 world or­der has pre­vented so many ter­ri­ble things from hap­pen­ing, and any time that you have a chance to em­brace it and to lead the world to­ward even more in­te­gra­tion, you should grab it.

“That’s what China has done, and that’s why we sup­port this ini­tia­tive. Ev­ery six months we’re go­ing to get to­gether; ev­ery six months, we re­port back to the en­tire world the progress that we’re mak­ing.”

Em­brac­ing in­te­gra­tion and mul­ti­lat­eral ap­proaches will “have a huge im­pact on end­ing poverty and boost­ing shared pros­per­ity”, Kim said.

The World Bank Group is one of six in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions that signed an agree­ment in May 2017 to col­lab­o­rate on the ini­tia­tive.

“The trick for us is go­ing to be to work with ev­ery sin­gle coun­try as part of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive to make sure that they can take the great­est ad­van­tages,” he said.

He called for coun­tries to step up re­forms so as to take full ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­ni­ties pre­sented by the ini­tia­tive.

Kim also said the World Bank is work­ing well to­gether with the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank. They are not com­peti­tors, Kim said, be­cause “with all the banks com­bined, there’s still not any­where near enough fi­nanc­ing for in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment” in the world.

Jin Liqun, pres­i­dent of the AIIB, said the clear mes­sage from the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is that once the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive takes off, it’s up to ev­ery­body to work to­gether.

“In China we have a say­ing, ‘When ev­ery­body chips in putting in the fire­wood, flames go much higher.’ But I would like to say when mul­ti­lat­eral de­vel­op­ment banks work to­gether, I would like to have the World Bank to take the lead,” Jin said, turn­ing to Kim: “If you’re short of money, we all chip in.” Ev­ery pan­elist laughed. Jin also said that when it comes to in­vest­ment, the AIIB has very high en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial stan­dards, op­er­at­ing strictly as a “lean, clean and green” or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Vice-Min­is­ter of Fi­nance Shi Yaobin, another pan­elist, also said that while the ini­tia­tive orig­i­nated in China, the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive will ben­e­fit the en­tire world. In­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion is both key to its suc­cess and a long-term ben­e­fit of im­ple­men­ta­tion.

In­done­sia’s Min­is­ter of Fi­nance Sri Mulyani In­drawati said con­nec­tiv­ity and co­op­er­a­tion are be­com­ing valu­able to­day with the sen­ti­ment of many coun­tries “be­com­ing more in­ward-look­ing”. She ex­pressed op­ti­mism that the ini­tia­tive would bring eco­nomic growth to In­done­sia.

Kaza­khstan’s Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Er­bo­lat Dos­saev de­scribed the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive as a ma­jor op­por­tu­nity for his land­locked coun­try, bring­ing new in­fra­struc­ture and so­cial de­vel­op­ment, and help­ing to di­ver­sify the econ­omy and al­le­vi­ate poverty.

I think more and more coun­tries will join over time.”

Jim Yong Kim,

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