On Thursday, June 4th, top executives from the big-fours of China’s banking landscape – Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China Construction Bank (CCB), Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) and Bank of China (BoC) – along with Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), listened with great interest to the most promising projects and strategies from EU regional authorities in the digital and infrastructural sector. In their presentations, the banks expressed their willingness to participate in the EU investment plan. The meeting was organized by ChinaEU at the Committee of the Regions, the Brussels-based assembly of 350 European regional and local representatives. This event is expected to lead to substantial investments from these Chinese banks in the digital and infrastructural sectors in Europe.
Several projects were presented by the regions of Tuscany (Italy), Ile de France (France), Cataluña (Spain), Azores (Portugal), Extremadura (Spain), Lodzkie (Poland) and the city of Berlin (Germany). Over 20 representatives of regions and cities from Ireland, Czech Republic, Greece, UK, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands, Malta and Latvia attended as observers.
The half-day event was introduced by the Chinese Ambassador to the EU Yang Yanyi and the President of the Committee of the Regions Markku Markkula, showing the importance attached to the subject from both sides. Edward Bannerman, Member of Cabinet of VP Katainen, and Alessandro Carano, former Adviser at the European investment Bank (EIB) and now Senior Adviser on Jobs to the European Commission, briefed the audience on the working mechanism of the Juncker plan, aimed at injecting a total of €315 billion on infrastructural projects in the period 2015-2017, so as to reinvigorate the EU’s economy.The message from the governments was clear. China is willing to contribute to the success of the Juncker plan, by favoring the completion of innovative projects across the EU. On the other side, the EU is open to foreign investments. Ultimately, “it is not up to the Commission or the EIB to decide the financial mix of the projects. It is the region, the country or the private company that promotes the project that will decide”- clarified Carano.
During the roundtable discussion with ICT representatives, giant Chinese vendor ZTE expressed its ambition to collaborate with both Chinese and European competitors to boost digital cooperation between China and Europe and realize advanced solutions for smart cities, smart energy, Internet of Things, smart transportation and broadband infrastructure. 5G research and development was also identified as a promising area for collaboration.”The Juncker plan gives us an important opportunity to raise the level of investments in ICT“, said Luigi Gambardella, President of ChinaEU. “The Chinese contribution can be financial, thanks to the support of the Chinese banks, and, in the digital sector, we can also see a technological contribution coming from China, thanks to the support of the Chinese ICT industry.” He concluded: “we clearly see the potential for Europe coming from Chinese institutions interested in investing in our market. We also see the potential that can be freed for European and Chinese businesses with regards to China’s One Belt, One Road strategy”.
The meeting was the first in a process launched by ChinaEU to facilitate joint investments from regions and cities in Europe and the main Chinese banks and financial investors that are currently looking to invest in Europe. In the upcoming months, the association will double its efforts to gather pipeline projects of interest to the Chinese banks, in an attempt to match Europe’s lack of funding with China’s availability of capital.
The seminar served also as a precious occasion for participants to shape cooperation mechanisms for the forthcoming EU-China summit, which will be held in Brussels on 29th June