Sus­tain­abil­ity, not eco­nomic growth, to be top pri­or­ity, say ex­perts

China Daily - - BUSINESS - By LUO WEITENG in Hong Kong [email protected]­nadai­lyhk.com

Sus­tain­abil­ity will con­tinue to be the top pri­or­ity amid grow­ing con­cerns about global eco­nomic growth, ex­perts said on Mon­day at the Asian Fi­nan­cial Fo­rum (AFF).

The cur­rent rhetoric and men­tal­ity may usher in a new era of pro­tec­tion­ism and pop­ulism, while ris­ing geopo­lit­i­cal ten­sions, volatile fi­nan­cial mar­kets and a de­te­ri­o­rat­ing eco­nomic out­look makes it tough to post sus­tain­able eco­nomic growth, said Vin­cent Lo Hong-shui, chair­man of the Hong Kong Trade De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil.

Jin Liqun, pres­i­dent and chair­man of the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank (AIIB), said that it was an op­por­tune time to re­de­fine the con­cept of growth.

“Growth is not ev­ery­thing. It makes sense only when it has achieved all its di­men­sions, rather than a mere fig­ure or gross do­mes­tic prod­uct,” Jin reck­oned.

If a 9-per­cent growth is based on 3 per­cent from pol­lu­tion and an­other 3 per­cent from clean­ing up the pol­lu­tion, then such a growth model is far from sus­tain­able, he said.

Last week, the Bei­jing-head­quarCredit tered multi­na­tional de­vel­op­ment bank set up a $500 mil­lion fund for in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment in emerg­ing Asian mar­kets, with the aim of pro­mot­ing green and sus­tain­able in­vest­ments in the re­gion. The AIIB Asia ESG (en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial and gov­er­nance) En­hanced Man­aged Port­fo­lio is ex­pected to fo­cus largely on in­fras­truc­tur­ere­lated bonds.

In her open­ing ad­dress, Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion, re­it­er­ated her con­fi­dence in the sem­i­nal role played by the SAR in driv­ing re­gional growth. The city’s growth po­ten­tial and com­pet­i­tive edge will con­tinue to be but­tressed with a huge rib­bon of AIIB-funded bigticket projects and its strate­gic lo­ca­tion along the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

The fi­nan­cial hub, which has made great strides in green fi­nance and fi­nan­cial tech­nol­ogy, is fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing the econ­omy in a sus­tain­able man­ner. “Our in­au­gu­ral gov­ern­ment green bond will soon be is­sued and it comes with a bor­row­ing ceil­ing of HK$100 bil­lion ($13 bil­lion),” said Lam.

Pierre Gramegna, fi­nance min­is­ter of Lux­em­bourg, said: “As trade ten­sions are ris­ing, strength­en­ing cross-bor­der trade ties and re­in­forc­ing the theme of sus­tain­abil­ity re­mains per­haps the sole and only driv­ing force. A triple A credit rat­ing is not enough any­more. We also need to have a triple A in sus­tain­abil­ity.

“No na­tion can stand aloof. It should be re­minded that sus­tain­abil­ity is no longer a na­tional is­sue. We should look at it from a multi­na­tional and multi-con­ti­nen­tal scope,” he said.

The two-day fo­rum will see over 130 pol­i­cy­mak­ers, fi­nan­cial and busi­ness lead­ers and in­vestors from coun­tries and re­gions across the globe dis­cussing eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges as well as fi­nan­cial in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy. The event has a theme of “Cre­at­ing a Sus­tain­able and In­clu­sive Fu­ture”.

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