China’s Belt and Road Lending Set to Rise, Morgan Stanley Says

BEIJING, BLOOMBERG -- China’s sweeping push to increase international trade and infrastructure investment will likely get a boost this year from government support and better financial conditions in recipient countries, according to Morgan Stanley.

Investment to nations along the route of President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative will grow at an annual pace of 14 percent between 2018 and 2020, compared with a contraction of 1.6 percent in 2016 and 2017. That will double total spending on the project to $1.2 trillion to $1.3 trillion by 2027, the bank said in a research note released Wednesday.

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The trade and investment drive aims to connect Asia and Europe through a series of infrastructure projects. It’s at the core of Beijing’s national foreign policy strategy and was added to the Communist Party constitution in October. Chinese money would also lift the exports and imports of Belt and Roadcountries by 10 percent and 5 percent respectively in the next decade, analysts led by Kevin Luo and Jenny Zheng in Hong Kong wrote in a note.

"The key domestic driver is Beijing’s new guidance on outbound investment -- since late 2016, policy makers have tightened capital controls on ‘irrational’ overseas investment, while continuing to support B&R investment," the analysts wrote, adding that the Belt-Road share of overall outward investment rose to 12 percent in 2017 from 8 percent in 2016.

Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Pakistan are countries that will benefit most from the push, the report said.