LatAm looking to Belt, Road

By Zhao Huanxin and Dong Leshuoin Washington | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-05-12 10:38

As the Belt and Road has become a buzz word these days, the chief of the Inter-American Development Bank said he wants to know how the Latin America and the Caribbean, the region the IDB serves, could be better integrated to the China-proposed initiative.

Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the IDB, also wants to ramp up his bank's cooperation with China, an increasingly important finance provider in the region.

As he leaves for Beijing to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on Sunday and Monday, Moreno is hoping to get some answers.

"It's very important for us to see how this hemisphere, which is so important, can be connected into that initiative, and in which ways the cooperation is possible," Moreno told China Daily.

"That's what I look forward to exploring and seeing what comes out of this forum."

Moreno has been invited to speak at a plenary session of the forum and will also participate in a side event that focuses on financing.

The Belt and Road Initiative, put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes. It is open and inclusive to all countries.

"I'm very interested in seeing what President Xi and the Chinese officials look to accomplish with this kind of initiative," Moreno said.

The former Colombian ambassador to the US said he believed the initiative is not only about physically connecting the trade routes that exist, but more importantly connecting people and the financial dimensions that trade and globalization require.

Moreno said his bank needed to double investment in infrastructure. In 2016, the IDB approved $9.3 billion of lending, 40 percent of which went to infrastructure and the environment, while 24 percent was diverted to health and social investment, according to the bank's 2016 Annual Report.

In 2013, Beijing invested $2 billion to back the IDB public and private sector projects in alleviating poverty and boosting competitiveness in the region, according to a press release from the bank.

"We have seen for a number of years already the enormous impact that the Chinese's demand for some of our commodities has helped countries lift many people out of poverty," Moreno said.

He said IDB hoped to deepen its relationship with China. China joined the world's oldest and largest regional multilateral development bank in 2009, and has been a key provider of finance for infrastructure and development in Latin America and the Caribbean, he said.

"There are huge possibilities," he said. "We're in a phase where we have to begin to diversify our own trade with China."


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