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Speech by CBR at the Astana Economic Forum (English only)

Following is the speech by the Commissioner for Belt and Road, Miss Yvonne Choi, at the Astana Economic Forum (June 16, 2017):

Good morning.

I would focus my remarks on what I perceive as the next phase of globalisation.

Yesterday and this morning, quite a lot of discussions on globalisation. While globalisation can mean different things with different people, it's alive and kicking though in a different form which we are familiar with.

As I see it, the rules based globalisation, as exemplified by the WTO, needs to be revitalised. Discussions in this regard have been stalled for some years, partly because any changes in the rules and introduction of new ones to meet changing needs of the world needs to be agreed by its over 160 members! This can be a long and frustrating negotiation process, and also risk of having an outcome at the level of lowest denominator.

While efforts to "modernise" the rules should continue, I see globalisation would take the form of a less rigid, more open and inclusive approach by capitalising on regional cooperation initiatives.

One major development in this regard is the Belt and Road Initiative championed by President Xi Jin-ping of China.

Speaking at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing last month, President Xi said global growth needed new economic drivers. He said, "development needs to be more inclusive and balanced, and the gap between the rich and the poor needs to be narrowed."

In other words, it's a new form of international relations focusing on win-win co-operation, forging partnerships of dialogue with no confrontation, etc.

As we look around including outcomes from the Forum in BJ, I see a lot of synergies between BRI and regional cooperation initiatives, such as Kazakhstan's "Nurly Zhol" / "Path to the Future", the Eurasia Economic Union, Master Plan on ASEAN connectivity, Middle Corridor of Turkey, the China/Pakistan Economic Corridor, etc.

In my view, for this phase of globalisation to succeed and prosper, 2 factors, namely project quality and sustainability are crucial in attracting foreign direct investment for infrastructure projects. Many attending the Forum have emphasised the important of these two factors.

One top priority in these developments is on infrastructure, development projects should be sustainable. They should be economically viable, as well as environmentally sustainable and beneficial to local people and society.

To achieve this, during the strategy formulation stage, way before the planning is done, sustainability assessment should already kick in, with detailed environmental and social impact assessment to follow. This may delay the preparation process at the beginning, but it is worth it. Otherwise, the result can be costly and negative impact irreversible.

On this, we require in Hong Kong all policies to go through sustainable development assessment in early stage of policy formulation. All our major development projects are required to conduct EIA. We also encourage the use of green technology and smart systems. Our international experts have teamed up to help promote a sustainable future for Hong Kong, and they should also be happy to share their experience with other countries with development needs.

Ends/Thursday, June 16, 2017