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Sunday, 7 May 2017

(The Star) ‘Belt and Road plan is vital'

YOKOHAMA: The Belt and Road initiative is very important and will have a positive impact on regional growth and prosperity, said the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Its deputy managing director Mit­suhiro Furusawa said the initiative was important in fostering regional cooperation in trade, investment and finance.

It would also provide much needed infrastructure to the region, he said in an exclusive interview with China’s Xinhua news agency on the sidelines of the 50th an­­nual meeting of the Asian Development Bank.

“Global growth is picking up and in China .... We see the growth momentum,” said Furusawa.

Proposed by China in 2013, the initiative is aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa, along the ancient Silk Road trade routes

Last month, the IMF upgraded its forecast for China’s economic growth in 2017 to 6.6% and that of the world to 3.5%, both up 0.1 percentage points from its January projections.

As for the internationalisation of the Chinese currency, Furusawa said this was both beneficial to China and other countries.

“The Chinese currency’s internationalisation goes hand-in-hand with Chinese economic growth.

“We hope that the Chinese reminbi will be internationalised as it is already included in (IMF’s) special drawing rights basket of currencies,” he said.

Furusawa also said the world had learned a lot from the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

“Good policies are the best de­­fence,” he said, adding that much progress had been made by Asian countries to prevent similar crises, including having more flexible exchange systems, enhancing re­­gional cooperation and creating financial safety nets.

The IMF was also making its own contribution to this progress, with its various tools, policy advice, financial aid and by creating a stronger global financial safety net, he said.

“There are always risks and challenges .... We should always wrestle with those challenges,” he added. — Bernama