As an active participant in the Belt and Road Initiative, Standard Chartered plans to further expand its business in China, CEO Bill Winters said in an interview.
“What we lack in the scale we make up for in quality…We hope to double the size of our China business over the next three years,” said Bill, noting that “the opportunity for us is in and around the ongoing opening-up, so we’re a major player in everything that is cross-border from China to the rest of the world.”
The three day China Development Forum, held in Beijing from March 23 to 25, provides an international platform for dialogue between representatives from leading businesses, international organisations, and scholars from China and abroad.
Winters said the British bank plays a “very active role” in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) through operations spanning 45 of the 65 countries that have joined the China-proposed project. The financial company is a provider of cross-border payment services and a participant in the onshore and offshore RMB market, which will “continue to benefit from the opening-up of China.”
The idea for the BRI is that China “uses its capabilities, its resources, and then some of these capitals to build infrastructure in countries that need to have infrastructure deals,” Winters commented, emphasising that Italy’s signing up for the Belt and Road Initiative is an encouraging sign, which will help further connect China to the developed parts of Europe.
Bill said he saw an “encouraging” level of confidence around the ongoing opening-up of China at this year’s forum as more details about the “enormous task” emerge, and touched upon the trade dispute with the United States.
“A year ago, while there was less detail on the table around how the U.S. was going to play its hand, there’s a high level of anxiety. And now, there’s still a level of anxiety, but there’s an understanding of how we might work through this process.”
Such confidence is reflected in the market, he noted, saying, “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the equity market in China has performed well, as an element of certainty, or at least an element of understanding how we could deal with the uncertainty comes to bear.”
Bill also expressed optimism about the global economic growth in the foreseen future.
“Global growth is still at around economic potential so we’re nowhere near economic recession right now,” he stated, noting that China’s growth has improved to a healthier level and U.S. growth remains strong, which can together support strong global economic growth.
“Debt levels globally are okay. And in the geopolitical situation, there is some uncertainty, but it all seems resolved,” he added.