Financing of projects focal point for APEC

Financing of projects focal point for APEC
Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei makes a speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) finance ministers meeting opening ceremony in Beijing October 22, 2014.

Infrastructure financing became the focus of Wednesday's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Finance Ministers' Meeting in Beijing, with several concrete results achieved.

In a joint statement following the meeting-which brought together the finance ministers of 21 APEC economies, leaders of international organisations and high-level representatives from the private sector-ministers identified infrastructure investment as "crucial" to boosting demand and lifting growth.

They acknowledged, however, that a huge gap still exists between potential demand and available funds, and underlined the importance of attracting long-term private funding.

"Infrastructure financing stimulated the most-heated discussion and took up almost half of today's proceedings," said Lou Jiwei, China's finance minister and chairman of the closed-door meeting.

Public-private partnerships have become the buzzword for the meeting so far and APEC members were asked to prepare examples of PPP case studies that might be used to develop a potential blueprint or "roadmap" for future PPP-funded infrastructure projects across the region.

An Implementation Roadmap and the case studies will be submitted to APEC leaders during the summit on Nov 10 and 11 and are expected to be key items on the agenda during finance ministers' discussion sessions, according to the joint statement.

The roadmap and the case study compilations have also been sent to local governments in China to guide their PPP practices, Lou said.

The statement revealed that an APEC Training Program has been launched to guide member economies' officials in charge of infrastructure development.

Finance ministers also encouraged member economies to establish their own PPP centers that can assess infrastructure projects and handle appropriate financing in the delivery of projects.

China has already taken the lead in setting up its own PPP centre under the Ministry of Finance.

To help strengthen the capacity building of member economies, China has also upgraded the former Asia-Pacific Finance and Development Center to an institute status, meaning it can offer academic positions to foreigner experts and students.

Besides infrastructure financing, three other key areas of discussion were highlighted during the day: The regional economic situation and outlook; fiscal and taxation policies and economic restructuring reform; and improving financial services for the regional real economy.

APEC finance ministers said they recognised that the global economy still faces persistent weakness in demand.

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