Financial innovation needed to support Sino-Portuguese business projects in the New Silk Road

Business projects involving China and Portuguese-speaking countries have been receiving official Chinese funding, but the deepening of this cooperation in the “era” of the New Silk Road requires innovative financial mechanisms, the president of the Fund for Cooperation and Development between China and the Portuguese-speaking Countries said in Lisbon.

Chi Jianxin, who travelled to Lisbon for a conference of the Friends of the New Silk Road Association on 23 March, said this instrument with an initial allocation of US$1 billion, jointly funded by the China Development Bank and the Macau Industrial Development and Trade Fund and managed by the China-Africa Development Fund, is actively involved in supporting projects in all Portuguese-speaking countries.

“The Belt and Road initiative is highly compatible with the development plans of many Portuguese-speaking countries and has a strong complementarity in terms of capital, technology, resources, markets, etc., stimulating new opportunities for commercial, economic and investment cooperation expansion between China and Portuguese-speaking countries,” Chi said.

The head of the fund also said that trade and investment cooperation between China and other Portuguese-speaking countries and regions is also increasing, with China becoming one of the most important trading partners and the fastest growing export market for those countries, with the trade balance exceeding US$100 billion in 2017, for the first time.

There are currently around 1,000 companies with capital from Portuguese-speaking countries in China, while Chinese companies have more than US$50 billion in investments in Portuguese-speaking countries.

Chi Jianxin also referred to what he called the “asymmetry of information and ideas” between companies and financial institutions, as well as the lack of access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises, which make up the majority of the business community in countries such as Portugal.

“We still have good projects and good investment opportunities for companies, but we cannot find adequate financial support. At the same time, financial institutions have funds, but they cannot find suitable projects,” he said.

In order to solve these problems, it is necessary to “improve the innovation capacity of financial institutions (including insurance agencies and consultancy services), which requires financial institutions to create new financing models to better understand the needs of companies.”

At the Lisbon conference, Wu Shiwei, vice president of the China Development Bank (Shaanxi branch), also said that the financial institution, “actively supports cooperation between Chinese and Portuguese companies” under the “Belt and Road.”

Among the suggestions he made was an “improvement of the mechanism of public-private cooperation.”

At the conference, Portuguese Foreign Minister, Augusto Santos Silva, said he would go to China in October or November and that the Chinese Foreign Minister will visit Portugal in May.

The mutual visits later this year are yet another step in the growing relationship between the two countries, whose relations, according to the Chinese ambassador to Portugal, Cai Run, are experiencing, “the best moment in history.” (macauhub)