Hong Kong Looks to Take Up Role as Facilitator in the Belt and Road Framework
2018-05-20 23:37:36 来源:《雅加达环球报》 作者: 【 】 浏览:144次 评论:0

   According to the report by JakataGlobe on May 17th: At the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing last year, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo expressed optimism and eagerness to partake in Chinas Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, which offers a wealth of opportunities in line with Indonesias own infrastructure and economic ambitions.

   "I appreciate this initiative, because it is a realistic one. It is not merely talk, but it is actually building something. From ports to railways, these are industries we can see and touch. This is exactly the sort of courage and real action the world needs right now," Jokowi said at the forum in Beijing on May 2017.

   Chinas President Xi Jinping announced the initiative in 2013, which has become known as the One Belt One Road (OBOR). The program comprises a grand plan to develop infrastructure connecting Asia, Europe and Africa.

   Indonesia and China have maintained cordial relations over the years, with the most recent visit of Chinas Premier Li Keqiang this month further reaffirming the strong bilateral ties.

   As reported by China Daily, Li expressed Chinas intent on increasing high-level exchanges with Indonesia and enhanced alignment within the framework of BRI to Indonesias own development plans during his meeting in April with coordinating minister for maritime affairs, Luhut Pandjaitan.

   Last year, China accounted for Indonesias fourth largest investor, making up 10.4 percent of total foreign direct investment (FDI) with $3.4 billion, according to data from the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM).

   While plans are in the works and both countries look keen to step up relations through the initiative, Indonesia still has ways to go to seize the potential offered by BRI.

   At a seminar in Jakarta last month, which was attended by high-level officials and business leaders from Hong Kong, the country expressed interest in playing a matchmaking role to help integrate the worlds resources to realize the vision set forth by the BRI.

   "Hong Kong is a global financial center, we are very strong in services in the professional sectors we have a lot of experience in infrastructure construction, so we are ideal to be that integrator of these investments," said Vincent Lo, chairman of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).

   Indonesia, HongKong and the BRI

   Hong Kong was one of the largest contributors to Indonesias FDI in 2017, just after China, with $2.1 billion, a 6.6 percent increase compared to 2016.

"For the past forty years, since the opening of China, Hong Kong has played a critical role in Chinas growth and development," Vincent said.

   Chinas National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that country's GDP per capita increase from around $200 in 1978 to more than $8,000 in 2017.

   "That can happen in BRI countries, including Indonesia, if you are progressive in your reforms," Vincent added.

   Indeed, the competition for foreign investments in the context of BRI will be tight, with dozens of countries along the BRI route. Vincent stressed that whichever countries move faster will benefit most from the program.

   Hong Kong operates as an independent territory under the "one country, two systems" mechanism, though it is still officially part of China.

   "The Belt and Road Initiative will rise into a global economic force deep into the 21st century,Carrie Lam, Hong Kongs chief executive, said during the seminar in Jakarta.

   During the speech, Lam focused on efforts to create new opportunities for businesses and foster trade and investment growth between Hong Kong and Asean countries, including Indonesia.

   She also noted the likelihood of expansion on Islamic finance mechanisms, in which Indonesia, as the worlds most populous Muslim country, will have a big role to play.

   In 2017, total trade between Indonesia and Hong Kong was valued at around $4.2 billion, according to data from the Ministry of Trade, showcasing an increase of around 7.5 percent from the year before.

   In tourism, more than 480,000 Indonesians traveled to Hong Kong last year, compared to only around 5,500 tourists outbound from Hong Kong.

On this significant gap, Carrie told the audience at the Jakarta seminar that she promised Jokowi she will do better to facilitate more tourists from Hong Kong to visit Indonesia.

   "Indonesia is one of the key countries we want to work with, one of the first ones that we believe is viable," Vincent said, alluding to the BRI framework.

   However, he also added that Hong Kongs role is merely as a facilitator, where it can bring prospective investors, while Indonesia "must bring bankable projects."

   Hong Kong can be a facilitator because of its expertise in providing professional services spanning across trade, financial, accounting, engineering and project management.

   "Hong Kong has a very important role in this global program these professional services are exactly what we need to prepare and then implement the infrastructure projects under the BRI," Thomas said.

   The seminar saw HKTDC bring along a number of companies, not only those from China but also multinational corporations, including Chinas state-owned enterprise Citic, asset management company Blackstone and HSBC Bank.

   The council has identified over 50 potential infrastructure projects for these investors as part of the seminar, which was used as a space for matching between key players. The projects, Vincent said, include roads, bridges and mass transit.

   "Indonesia is a very important part of Asia, huge population, big country and good economy factors that are to your advantage in the competition. But the thing is, how can you plan these investments to help you grow your economy even faster?" Vincent said.

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